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Hate crime reports up nearly 8 percent in 2006: FBI

[JURIST] Almost eight percent more hate crimes were reported in 2006 than the previous year, according to the 2006 Hate Crime Statistics [report; press release] released by the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) [official website] Monday. Participating local law enforcement agencies reported a total of 7,722 incidents in 2006, up from 7,163 reported incidents in 2005. The report listed 5,449 instances of crimes against persons, mostly intimidation and simple assaults. Law enforcement agencies also documented 3,593 instances of crimes against property, of which 81 percent were acts of vandalism and destruction of property. The report says that racial discrimination accounted for 51.8 percent of all reported hate crimes, while religious bias followed with 18.9 percent. The increase in reported incidents does not necessarily represent an increase in actual hate crimes, as increased reporting could be due to greater prioritization by local agencies. Over 25 percent of local law enforcement agencies also do not report incidents to the FBI.

In September, the US Senate approved an amendment to the 2008 Senate Defense Reauthorization Bill [HR 1585 materials] that would expand federal hate crimes legislation to include violent attacks against people based on their gender or sexuality. The White House has repeatedly threatened to veto [policy statement, PDF] the hate crimes legislation. In 2006, the FBI reported that the number of reported hate crimes fell by six percent in 2005 [JURIST report] from the previous year. In 2004, the FBI reported an increase in racially motivated hate crimes [JURIST report] over those committed in 2003. AP has more.

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