Hate Crimes Rose 8 Percent in 2006
By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN, AP
Posted: 2007-11-19 13:41:38
WASHINGTON (Nov. 19) – Hate crime incidents in the United States rose last year by nearly 8 percent, the FBI reported Monday, as racial prejudice continued to account for more than half the reported instances.
Police across the nation reported 7,722 criminal incidents in 2006 targeting victims or property as a result of bias against a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic or national origin or physical or mental disability. That was up 7.8 percent from the 7,163 incidents reported in 2005.
Although the noose incidents and beatings among students at Jena, La., high school occurred in the last half of 2006, they were not included in the report. Only 12,600 of the nation’s more than 17,000 local, county, state and federal police agencies participated in the hate crime reporting program in 2006 and neither Jena nor LaSalle Parish, in which the town is located, were among the agencies reporting. justice protest
Nevertheless, the Jena incidents, and a rash of subsequent noose incidents around the country, have spawned civil rights protests in Louisiana and last week at Justice Department headquarters here. The department said it investigated the incident but decided not to prosecute because the federal government does not typically bring hate crime charges against juveniles.
The Jena case began in August 2006 after a black student sat under a tree known as a gathering spot for white students. Three white students later hung nooses from the tree. They were suspended by the school but not prosecuted. Six black teenagers, however, were charged by LaSalle Parish prosecutor Reed Walters with attempted second-degree murder of a white student who was beaten unconscious in December 2006. The charges have since been reduced to aggravated second-degree assault, but civil rights protesters have complained that no charges were filed against the white students who hung the nooses.
“The FBI report confirms what we have been saying for many months about the severe increase in hate crimes,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who organized Friday’s march. “What is not reported, however, is the lack of prosecution and serious investigation by the Justice Department to counter this increase in hate crimes.” Sharpton called for Attorney General Michael Mukasey to meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and civil rights leaders to discuss this matter.
The Justice Department says it is actively investigating a number of noose incidents at schools, work places and neighborhoods around the country. It says “a noose is a powerful symbol of hate and racially motivated violence” recalling the days of lynchings of blacks and that it can constitute a federal civil rights offense under some circumstances.
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