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December 10, 2012

ADL Reacts to Release of 2011 FBI Hate Crime Report

A synagogue in Danville, Virginia, was vandalized in July 2011

The FBI’s 2011 Hate Crime Statistics Act report, released today, shows a welcome decline in the overall number of hate crimes in the United States, but significant concerns remain.

First, it is clear that 6,222 hate crimes – almost one every 90 minutes of every day – is too many.  And second, a significant number of large city law enforcement agencies either did not participate or reported zero hate crimes, which, in some circumstances, seems highly unlikely.  The FBI report is available here:  http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/hate-crime/2011.

The FBI has been collecting hate crime reports  from  law enforcement officials since 1991 under the Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990 (HCSA).  Though clearly incomplete, the Bureau’s annual HCSA reports provide the best single national snapshot of bias-motivated criminal activity in the United States.

Here are highlights of the 2011 FBI HCSA report:

  • Reported hate crime incidents decreased six percent from 2010 levels, from 6.628 to 6.222 — the lowest number of reported hate crime since 1994.
  • Crimes directed against individuals because of race, religion, and national origin all decreased, but crimes based on sexual orientation increased slightly.    Sexual orientation hate crimes now constitute the second most frequent type of hate crimes, after race-based crimes.
  • Religion-based crimes decreased, from 1,322 in 2010 to 1,233 in 2011, with reported anti-Jewish crimes decreasing from 887 in 2010 to 771 in 2011.  However, a very disturbing 63 percent of the reported religion-based crimes in 2011 were directed against Jews and Jewish institutions – consistent with data over the past decade.  Reported crimes against Muslims decreased slightly, from 160 in 2010 to 157 in 2011.

Complementing the national data, the annual HCSA report has become an important measure of accountability about how cities and towns and their law enforcement agencies are prepared to address hate violence.   Only 14,575 out of the approximately 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States participated in the 2011 data collection effort – and only 1,944 of these participating agencies (13 percent) – reported even a single hate crime to the FBI.   At least 79 cities over 100,000 in population either did not participate in the HCSA program at all, or affirmatively reported to the Bureau that they had zero (0) hate crimes.

Law enforcement agencies must demonstrate that they are ready and willing to respond to hate violence when it occurs – and we will be working with coalition allies and federal and state officials to spark necessary improvements in reporting and response to this national problem.

Since the tragic murder of six Sikh worshippers at their Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin on August 5, the League has been working with a broad coalition of civil rights, religious, and law enforcement organizations to expand the HCSA categories to include hate crimes directed against Sikhs, Hindus, and Arabs.  ADL also sent a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. urging him to support these additional categories.

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