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Hate Crime: The Violence of Intolerance

What is Hate Crime?

Hate crime is the violence of intolerance and bigotry, intended to hurt and intimidate someone because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious, sexual orientation, or disability. The purveyors of hate use explosives, arson, weapons, vandalism, physical violence, and verbal threats of violence to instill fear in their victims, leaving them vulnerable to more attacks and feeling alienated, helpless, suspicious and fearful. Others may become frustrated and angry if they believe the local government and other groups in the community will not protect them. When perpetrators of hate are not prosecuted as criminals and their acts not publicly condemned, their crimes can weaken even those communities with the healthiest race relations.

Of all crimes, hate crimes are most likely to create or exacerbate tensions, which can trigger larger community-wide racial conflict, civil disturbances, and even riots. Hate crimes put cities and towns at-risk of serious social and economic consequences. The immediate costs of racial conflicts and civil disturbances are police, fire, and medical personnel overtime, injury or death, business and residential property loss, and damage to vehicles and equipment. Long-term recovery may be hindered by a decline in property values, which results in lower tax revenues, scarcity of funds for rebuilding, and increased insurance rates.

Victims of Hate Crime

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in "Hate Crimes Reported in NIBRS, 1997-1999,":

  • Racially motivated hate crimes most frequently target blacks.
  • Six in 10 racially biased incidents targeted blacks, and 3 in 10 people targeted whites.
  • Hispanics of all races were targeted in 6.7 percent of incidents and Asians in 3 percent.
  • Most hate crime victims were between 11 and 31.
  • The age of victims of violent hate crimes drops dramatically after age 45.

Perpetrators of Hate Crime

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in "Hate Crimes Reported in NIBRS, 1997-1999,":

  • Thirty-one percent of violent offenders and 46 percent of property offenders were under age 18.
  • Nearly two-thirds of all known perpetrators of hate crimes are teenagers or young adults.
  • Thirty-two percent of hate crimes were committed in a residence, 28 percent in an open space, 19 percent in a retail/commercial establishment or public building, 12 percent at a school or college, and 3 percent at a church, synagogue, or temple.
  • 61 percent of hate crime incidents were motivated by race and another 11 percent by ethnicity.
  • Of incidents motivated by religion, 41 percent targeted Jewish victims.

Some perpetrators commit hate crimes with their peers as a "thrill" or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol; some as a reaction against a perceived threat or to preserve their "turf'; and some out of resentment over the growing economic power of a particular racial or ethnic group engage in scapegoating.

Reporting a Hate Crime

Individuals may report possible hate crimes on their own or on behalf of others if they have sufficient first-hand information about the incident. The information provided should include names of the victim(s), any witnesses, and the perpetrators (if known), a description of the events, and whether any physical injuries or physical damage were incurred. Complaints in writing are preferred, but there may be circumstances when a telephone complaint is appropriate (especially if there is an immediate danger). The "blue pages" of your local telephone book should have the phone numbers and addresses for the agencies shown below.

Hate crimes should be reported to:

  • Local FBI field office or
  • Local police department
Next Steps
Contact a qualified civil rights attorney
to help you protect your rights.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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