WASHINGTON — The number of US hate crime victims rose slightly last year to nearly 9,700 from 9,500 in 2007, with most people targeted because of their skin color, the FBI said Monday.
However, as Think Progress notes, “Hate crimes based on sexual orientation had the largest increase — nearly 11 percent.”
More than half of hate crimes committed in the United States were racially motivated, and three-quarters of the victims were black, the FBI’s annual report on hate crimes said.
Of the 6,927 known perpetrators of all hate crimes — which include attacks driven by not only racial bias but also by the victims’ religious affiliation, sexual orientation, ethnic origins or disability — 61 percent were white. Blacks perpetrated attacks in around 20 percent of cases.
The report was compiled after the issue of race was thrust into the center of US politics with African American Barack Obama’s successful bid to be elected the first black president of the United States.
Around 17 percent of hate crime victims were attacked because of their sexual orientation, the overwhelming majority, 96 percent, because they were gay or lesbian.
Nearly 20 percent were attacked for their religious affiliation, with Jews making up around two-thirds of the victims of those attacks.
Muslims were the targets of less than eight percent of religious hate crimes, putting them in third place behind Jews and followers of unspecified “other religions” attacked in 13 percent of religion-fueled hate crimes.
In 2007, Muslims represented about eight percent of victims attacked because of their religion, and in 2006 they made up 12 percent of victims of religion-motivated hate crimes.
Members of the large US Hispanic community were victims of 64 percent, or nearly two-thirds, of the 1,148 hate crimes driven by a bias against a person’s ethnicity or national origin.
Most hate crimes targeting individuals were intimidation or simple assault, but seven murders and 11 rapes were counted among the hate crime statistics.
The FBI compiled the report using data submitted by 13,690 law enforcement agencies in most of the 50 states. More than 80 percent of the participating agencies reported no hate crimes in their jurisdictions in 2008.
(Editor’s note: Headline originally erroneously reported that racial hate crimes went up sharply instead of slightly, additional reporting by RAW STORY)