November 14th, 2011
06:08 PM ET

Hate crime numbers steady, nearly half motivated by racial bias, FBI reports

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Department Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) - As New York authorities investigate what appears to be the nation's latest hate crime, the FBI's annual hate crime report, released Monday, shows no significant change in the level of crimes motivated by bias.

The FBI reports the number of U.S. hate crimes  - offenses as a result of bias toward race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or national origin, physical or mental disability - totaled 6,628 in calendar year 2010. That's slightly above the 6,604 total hate crimes reported during 2009.

The largest category of hate crimes involved race, accounting for nearly half of more than 6,000 incidents. Figures roughly reflected the nation's overall population, with 58% of known offenders classified as "white" and 18% listed as "black."

Statistics showed a total of 2,600 anti-black offenses, 679 anti-white and 681 anti-Hispanic.

The FBI reported that out of  6,624 "single-bias" incidents, 47.3% were motivated by a racial bias, 20% by a religious bias, 19.3% by a sexual orientation bias and 12.8% were motivated by an ethnicity bias.

The figures included cases of intimidation as well as assaults. Seven murders in the nation last year were attributed to any form of bias. Four of the offenders were white and three were black, the FBI report said.

The FBI's annual report comes on the heels of a weekend incident in a Jewish section of Brooklyn in which three vehicles were set ablaze and graffiti was scrawled across park benches.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a statement declaring the attackers to be "a twisted person or people."

"This kind of hateful act has no place in the freest city in the freest country in the world," Bloomberg said.

The new hate crime statistics show anti-Jewish bias remains far and away the most prevalent form of hate crime directed at a religious group.

In 2010, the number of anti-Jewish incidents reported in the United States totaled 887 of roughly 1,300 cases in which a religion was targeted.

The next largest category was anti-Islamic bias, which was reported in 160 incidents. Anti-Catholic bias ranked third with 58 reported incidents.

The numbers were largely consistent with the 2009 figures, which showed more than 70% of religious bias was aimed at Jews, compared with 9% of cases labeled anti-Islamic and 4% anti-Catholic.

Although hate crimes remained essentially level last year, the statistics notably come in the wake of a recent FBI report that found overall violent crime such as murder and rape in the United States in 2010 had fallen a significant 6% from the previous year.

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