2005 Hate Crime Statistics

Jim Burroway

October 17th, 2006

The FBI just released the Federal Hate Crime Statistics for 2005. Overall, the report shows some good trends.

There were 7,170 total hate crime incidents in 2005, which is down about 6% from 2004’s 7,649 hate crime incidents. For hate crimes based on sexual orientation, there were 1,018 hate crime incidents in 2005, which is down about 15% from the previous year’s 1,198 hate crime incidents motivated by sexual orientation. As I noted in my report, When Words Have Consequences, some of the harsh rhetoric surrounding the Federal Marriage Amendment and various state ballot initiatives may have raised the number of hate crimes against gays and lesbians during that contentious political year. If these numbers are to be believed, then perhaps 2005 represents a welcome cooling off period.

While this year’s statistics are encouraging, it should be noted that they are not comprehensive. Many jurisdictions refuse to participate in the hate crime reporting system. This omission can be critical. Barely 10% of Alabama’s population is covered by these statistics; Georgia improves slightly to 21% coverage (up from 18% in 2004), Mississippi falls to 30% coverage (from 35%) and Illinois holds stead at 40% coverage. With Hawaii’s continuing refusal to participate, this rounds out the bottom five states in hate crime reporting participation. Meanwhile, nine states and the District of Columbia are in the 100% club, and participating law enforcement agencies in seventeen states bring those states’ coverages to 95% or greater.

But what’s even more startling is this: none of the hate crimes in New York City or Phoenix were reported. Other notable no-shows include Louisville, Buffalo, Charleston, S.C., and surprisingly, Santa Fe, N.M. (where James Maestas was beaten). As I demonstrate in Federal Hate Crime Statistics: Why The Numbers Don’t Add Up, this uneven participation can very easily underestimate the scope of hate crimes against gays and lesbians. This also means that some very high-profile cases like the James Maestas beating in 2005 or Daniel Fetty’s murder in 2004 can go uncounted altogether.

One final note: In a demonstration that hate crime protections are not special protections for minority groups, the FBI reports that there were 828 anti-white, 57 anti-Protestant, and 21 anti-heterosexual hate crime incidents in 2005. This provides further proof that anybody can be a victim of a criminal act of intimidation based on race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin, or disability.

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