Hate Crime: The Violence of Intolerance
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed August 23, 2017
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Hate crime is the violence of intolerance and bigotry, intended to hurt and intimidate someone because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. A hate crime (also known as a bias crime) is a criminal offense where the purveyors of hate can use explosives, arson, weapons, vandalism, physical violence, and verbal threats of violence to instill fear in their victims, leaving them vulnerable to more attacks and feeling alienated, helpless, suspicious, and fearful. Others may become frustrated and angry if they believe the local government and other groups in the community will not protect them; this is a reason that hate crimes are often unreported. When perpetrators of hate are not prosecuted as criminals and their acts not publicly condemned, their crimes can weaken even those communities with the healthiest race relations.
Of all crimes, hate crimes are most likely to create or exacerbate tensions, which can trigger larger community-wide racial conflict, civil disturbances, and even riots. Hate crimes put cities and towns at risk of serious social and economic consequences. The immediate costs of racial conflicts and civil disturbances are police, fire, and medical personnel overtime, injury or death, business and residential property loss, and damage to vehicles and equipment. Long-term recovery may be hindered by a decline in property values, which results in lower tax revenues, scarcity of funds for rebuilding, and increased insurance rates.
Victims of Hate Crime
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in "Hate Crime Victimization", 2004-2015,":
- Nearly half (48 percent) of hate crime victimizations were
motivated by racial bias.
- About a third of victims believed
they were targeted because of their ethnicity (35 percent) or gender
- More than a fifth of victims believed the hate crime
was motivated by persons or groups they were associated
with (23 percent) or their sexual orientation (22 percent).
- About 17 percent of hate crime victimizations were believed to be motivated
by the victim's religion.
- About 16 percent of hate crime victimizations were motivated by the
Perpetrators of Hate Crime
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in "Hate Crime Statistics 2015," of the 5,493 known offenders:
- 48.4 percent were white,
- 24.3 percent were black or African-American,
- 9.1 percent were groups made up of individuals of various races (groups of multiple races)
- 1.0 percent were Asian
- 0.9 percent were American Indian or Alaska Native
- 0.1 percent were Hawaiian Native or other Pacific Islander
- 16.2 percent were unknown
Some perpetrators commit hate crimes with their peers as a "thrill" or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol; some as a reaction against a perceived threat or to preserve their "turf;" and some out of resentment over the growing economic power of a particular racial or ethnic group engage in scapegoating.
Reporting a Hate Crime
Individuals may report possible hate crimes on their own or on behalf of others if they have sufficient first-hand information about the incident. The information provided should include names of the victim(s), any witnesses, and the perpetrators (if known), a description of the events, and whether any physical injuries or physical damage were incurred. Complaints in writing are preferred, but there may be circumstances when a telephone complaint is appropriate (especially if there is an immediate danger).
Hate crimes should be reported to:
- The FBI either online or via telephone or mail ( Local FBI field office )
- Local police department
Talk to an Attorney Today
Hate crimes epitomize some of the most vicious and dangerous crimes committed, but often these types of crimes go unreported. Have you been a victim of a hate crime? Whether you have been targeted because of your race, religion, sexual orientation, or other characteristic, you will want to talk to an experienced civil rights attorney to assist you with this very difficult situation.
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Contact a qualified civil rights attorney to help you protect your rights.