Bias Crime Report Yields Biased Reporting

Jim Kouri, The Common Voice, Nov. 14

The mainstream news media is breathlessly reporting that the latest report on hate crimes released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows a 5 percent increase in bias crime in 2004.

According to the annual FBI Uniform Crime Report, racial prejudice lay behind more than half the 7,649 hate crimes reported by local police agencies. Bias-motivated incidents against African-Americans appear to be the most prevalent category.

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The reader could have gotten all of the above from any newspaper or news organization. However, the statistics do not answer many questions regarding hate crime in America. What statistics tell us is important. What they don’t tell us is vital.

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An analysis of the hate crime offenses reported by law enforcement agencies in 2004 showed that intimidation accounted for 31.3 percent; destruction, damage, or vandalism comprised 31.1 percent; simple assault, 19.4 percent; and aggravated assault, 11.5 percent. Only 6.0 percent of the total number of offenses reported included murder, forcible rape, robbery, arson, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and other offenses. Crimes against society accounted for 0.7 percent of hate crime offenses.

Law enforcement agencies reported five bias-motivated murders. Three of those murders resulted from racial bias: two anti-white and one anti-black. One of the five murders resulted from a bias against atheism or agnosticism, and one murder stemmed from a bias against homosexual individuals.

All of the four bias-motivated forcible rapes reported in 2004 stemmed from racial bias. Three were committed because of the offenders’ bias against white individuals; the other was due to bias against black individuals.

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5. A large number of the bias crimes reported are classified as “intimidation.” This is a disturbing category since it is the most subjective. If a person who’s 5’5” tall, weighing 120 pounds is confronted on a supermarket checkout line by a man 6’7” tall, weighing close to 300 pounds, he or she may feel intimidated. Intimidation could also mean a verbal confrontation occurred and one of the actors believed that the confrontation was racially motivated (i.e., “You’re doing this to me because I’m black,” or ‘You’re doing this to me because I’m white,” or “you’re doing this to me because I’m a Muslim.”)

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WASHINGTON—Racial prejudice lay behind more than half the 7,649 hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2004, the bureau said Monday. Hate crimes against black Americans were most prevalent.

The number of race-based incidents rose by 5 percent last year to 4,042 from 3,844. Authorities identified prejudice against blacks in 2,731 of those crimes, the FBI said.

Overall, the number of hate crimes grew by just 2 percent compared with the 7,489 in 2003, and there were slight declines in crimes motivated by bias based on sexual orientation and ethnicity, the FBI said.

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