Hate Crimes Up in 2008, FBI Says

The hate crimes bill is named for Matthew Shepard, pictured here in an undated photo. Shepard was a gay University of Wyoming college student who was beaten and left for dead in a Wyoming pasture near Laramie, Wyo., on Oct. 7, 1998.
AP Photo
Hate crimes rose slightly in 2008, with bias-motivated attacks based on race, religion and sexual orientation all increasing, according to new data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Overall, there were 7,783 criminal incidents reported last year. Those incidents involved 9,168 offenses. In 2007, there were 7,624 criminal incidents involving 9,006 offenses reported.

Of the criminal incidents, all but three were motivated by a single bias - 51.3 percent by race; 19.5 percent by religion, 16.7 by sexual orientation; 11.5 percent by ethnicity or national origin; 1 percent by disability.

Within the racial bias incidents, 72.6 percent were against blacks; 17.3 against whites.

Gay men were the victims in most of the sexual orientation-bias attacks - 58.6 percent.

Anti-Jewish bias accounted for 65.7 percent of the religious bias attacks; 7.7 percent of the attacks were against Muslims.

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Crimes against people accounted for 5,542 - 48.8 percent intimidation; 32.1 percent simple assaults; 18.5 aggravated assault. There were seven murders.

There were 3,608 hate crimes against property - 83.3 percent were acts of destruction or vandalism; 17.7 percent involved theft.

The majority of 6,927 know hate crimes offenders were white - 61.1 percent, compared with 20.2 percent who were black. The offenders' race was unknown in 11 percent. The remaining offenders were other races.

Hate crimes most frequently occurred in or near homes - 31.9 percent; highways, roads, alleys or streets accounted for 17.4 percent; schools accounted for 11.7 percent; parking lots accounted for 6.1 percent; places of worship accounted for 6.1 percent.