1990, United States government passed the Hate Crimes Statistics Act. This mandated that state, local and federal law enforcement agencies report data on crimes that reflected a bias against a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation, and/or ethnicity/national origin. Several years later, people with disabilities were added to this list. Data collection was placed under the auger of the FBI, which complied by publishing an annual report through its Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. This program started to publish a review of national hate crimes in 1990 entitled Hate Crime Statistics, 1990: A Resource Book. By 1992, the publication reflected the reported data of all states. Because certain states, such as Wisconsin, penalize perpetrators more for the same crime if the motivation for that crime is thought to be categorical hatred, statistics reflect the opinions of law enforcement agencies.
Because of this wealth of new data, in addition to the data collected through the most recent decennial census, we are able to compare hate crime statistics to other factors by region that may contribute to the creation of an atmosphere in which hate crimes are more likely. This in turn affects public policy. For instance, in the backlash against people of Islamic faith or Middle Eastern ancestral origin that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies were able to relay the occurrence of hate crimes to the media, which in turn launched a tolerance campaign aimed at promoting tolerance. As a result, these attacks subsided.
For this study, I have collected data on hate crimes from 25 American cities; specifically, I have collected 2001 data (the most recent available) on hate crimes related to race, religion, sexual orientation and ethnicity and also data for these cities related to racial breakdown, average income, immigrant population, and total population.
The data revealed that only 5 of the 25 cities surveyed had 1.9 or more incidents of hate crime for every 10,000 people. These cities were Boston, San Francisco, Portland, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles. This was interesting in that none of the southern cities mentioned made it into these top five: the highest ranking southern city was Memphis, with.723 hate crimes for every 10 thousand people. Three of the cities with relatively high numbers of reported hate crimes were west coast cities, together with Minneapolis and Boston. Boston had the most overwhelmingly high number of hate crimes, with 3.5 for every 10 thousand people. Of the 2,188 hate crimes reported, over a third of this number, or 763, were race-related. It should be noted that ethnicity and religion-related hate crimes were sometimes hard to distinguish, as in the case of middle-eastern peoples.
Boston was an interesting case. With 209 reported hate crimes, it was third among cities overall in the number of hate crimes committed after Los Angeles and New York. 95 of these crimes were racially motivated, 54 were motivated by ethnicity, 31 by sexual orientation and 29 by religion. This is a relatively large number of crimes for a city that numbers just under 600 thousand. The city is also 54.4% white and over a quarter of its population was born somewhere outside the United States. This is a statistically lower number of white people and a statistically higher number of foreign-born people than other cities in the United States, but not so much as Los Angeles, New York or some other cities. The average number of hate crimes per 10 thousand in cities surveyed was.763.
Some cities featured particularly strongly for certain types of hate crimes, such as violence against homosexuals in San Francisco. This is probably due to a larger gay population. However, crimes against homosexuals, which was smallest in number of all the crimes listed, was not limited to cities with large homosexual populations such as San Francisco, Washington, New York, and Los Angeles. New York had an overwhelming number of crimes associated with religion compared to other factors. Religion-related crimes outnumbered race-related crimes in New York City by nearly 3 to one. This shouldn’t be seen as unusual; New York has always been home to religious extremists from a number of different ethnicities, including Jews and Muslims. It should be remembered that for a large part of 2001, when the survey was being conducted, the City had a large contingent of American servicemen actively stationed in lower Manhattan in response to 9/11. Some would argue that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were hate-motivated crimes, and that these belong in this list of statistics as well.
In cities such as New York and Los Angeles, many of the hate crimes were a result of recursive patterns of rivalry between two groups of people. Sometimes two foreign-born ethnicities will clash. This was noted in Holland in Rotterdam, where clashes between homosexuals and conservative Muslims resulted in the rise of that nation’s ultra-right Pim Fortyn party, which was thrown into chaos when Pim himself, a gay bald xenophobe, was killed by an anarchist. Earlier in the 1990’s, rivalries existed between Hasidic Jews and blacks in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, and between blacks and Koreans in many traditionally black ethnic areas. Such patterns of hate are often gang related, such as when gangs identify along racial or ethnic lines and engage in gang warfare. This plays over into organized crime; the 20th century is replete with many tales of successive waves of immigrant gangs; the Columbian gangs and Italian and Russian mafia are said to be fighting each other in many cities for control of the drug trade.
Its interesting to note that Los Angeles has over four times the number of race-related hate crimes that New York has. Both have populations that are less than 50% white and among the highest numbers of foreign immigrants in the United States per capita, but Los Angeles is also much more associated with gang violence and gangs also tend to be prevalent among poor minorities that relate to one another on a racial basis rather than on a demographic basis as whites do. Chicago is considerably more segregated with respect to neighborhood, and has one of the lowest hate crime ratings of any of the major cities; it has barely more than 100 hate crimes, while Boston with less than 1/3 of its population has twice as many hate crimes. Chicago also has a smaller white population, at 42% of the population, but has a slightly smaller immigrant population than many of the larger American cities with just over 20%. Cities in Texas reported a much smaller amount of hate crimes than other States. The four cities surveyed; Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Fort Worth, had among the lowest reported numbers of hate crimes despite all featuring high Mexican immigrant populations.
Cities with large poor, black communities noted for a high number of violent crimes were surprisingly absent from the top of the list of cities by number of hate crimes per 10 thousand. Washington and Baltimore featured as having the lowest number of hate crimes in the entire list.
Income didn’t feature as a major factor in the determination of whether or not certain cities had hate crimes. Boston, Portland, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles all had average incomes of between 20 and 24 thousand dollars a year, however San Francisco’s average income was much higher at 34 thousand dollars a year. Of the two cities at the bottom of the list, Washington and Baltimore, per capita incomes were over 28 and less than 17 thousand dollars a year, although in Washington income disparities between whites and blacks, as well as disparities in educational attainment, are among the highest in the country.
The question that is often asked is: what does all of this mean for policy makers? There are certain factors that can be seen as ‘incubators’ of hatred. These exist when ethnically cogent communities come into conflict with one another, as can be seen in Los Angeles or when a certain population is targeted such as the gays in San Francisco or Portland. We can’t assume that all hate crimes committed in an area are committed by its citizens. However, it also happens for indiscernible reasons, such as in Boston and Minneapolis. In the end, it is shown that the research is inconclusive, and calls for more research to be done.
Hate figures, 2001. Source: FBI Hate Crime Statistics
Total Hate Crimes hate/10k population
General Statistics. Source: 2000 Decennial Census, www.census.gov
Per Capita Income
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