By: Renee Nal
The newly-released FBI Hate Crime Statistics for 2013 have some major issues, rendering them vastly useless to researchers and the public.
According to the FBI, there were a total of 6933 hate crime offenses that took place during 5,928 incidents “because incidents may include more than one offense type.” Of those, the FBI asserts that there were 4430 victims, and of those, 2685 attacks included actual physical harm. The breakdown is: Murder and non-negligent manslaughter (5), rape (including those that fit under the revised definition) (21), aggravated assault (734), simple assault (1925).
According to the reporting guidelines, simple assault is “an unlawful physical attack by one person upon another where neither the offender displays a weapon, nor the victim suffers obvious severe or aggravated bodily injury involving apparent broken bones, loss of teeth, possible internal injury, severe laceration, or loss of consciousness.” So, a simple assault could conceivably be a shove or a slap in the face; intrusive and awful for the victim, but would not result in a scar or permanent injury.
This article focuses only on those “hate crime” offenses that resulted in physical harm, including simple assault. Here are some of the reasons why the FBI Hate Crime Statistics do not measure up to scrutiny:
- Convicted crimes carry the same weight as anonymous graffiti, for example, which is counted as a “hate crime” despite the fact that the perpetrator(s) could be unknown.
- According to the Hate Crime Data Collection Guidelines and Training Manual, “reporting agencies must examine each case for facts which clearly provide evidence that the offender’s bias motivated him/her to commit the crime.” However, FBI spokesperson Stephen G. Fischer Jr. told the author last year that convictions are not tracked. More information about how the reporters make this determination should be available.
- The source information is not provided, so it is impossible to match the data with the actual statistics. Considering the abundance of “hate crime hoaxes,” source information is necessary.
- In 1800 out of 5928 incidents, according to the report, the offender’s race is “unknown.” This begs the question: If you cannot locate the perpetrator, how could the reporting agency possibly know his or her intent?
- Regarding the “known offenders,” the FBI cautions: “The term known offender does not imply that the suspect’s identity is known…” (you may need to read that again). The FBI continues, “rather, the term indicates that some aspect of the suspect was identified, thus distinguishing the suspect from an unknown offender.” The question is, if the known offender is only known based on a description from the alleged victim, how can bias intent be effectively determined?
- White people are considered to be the “original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.” Arab Americans who commit a hate crime, therefore, are considered to be “white.”
- For the first time, as reported at the Examiner, FBI spokesperson Fischer said that the FBI will be “collecting offender Hispanic information starting 2013.” Perpetrators who happened to be Hispanic were previously lumped in with white people as offenders, but not as victims. But according to the 2013 statistics, only 13 “Hispanic or Latino” individuals committed a hate crime. Consider: according to the hate crime statistics for Los Angeles County alone, there were 57 incidents of Latino-on-Black hate crimes.
- Of the violent hate crimes, there were five incidents of “Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter.” Of those, four were committed by white people and one was of an “unknown” race. Of the aggravated assaults, 443 were committed by white people and 188 were committed by black people. Groups of “multiple races” committed 32 aggravated assaults and 31 were of an “unknown race.” Of the simple assaults, 845 were committed by white people and 451 were committed by black people. Groups of “multiple races” committed 119 aggravated assaults and 177 were of an “unknown race.”
- Interestingly, if one combines simple and aggravated assault, American Indians/Alaska Natives account for 32 offenses, 21 offenses can be attributed to “Asians,” and 9 can be attributed to those who are classified as Hispanic/Latino.
- If one removes simple assault from the equation, a total of 760 people were physically harmed during a hate crime in 2013, based on the statistics. The rest of the 6933 hate crimes can be attributed to other offenses, most prominently would be intimidation (1528), and “Destruction/damage/vandalism” (1783).
Starting in 2015, the FBI “will begin formally tracking hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus and Arabs.” It is unclear if Arabs will still be considered as white people as offenders. This year, data on gender and gender identity biases has been added to the statistics.
The most troubling aspects of the report in a nutshell:
- Convictions are not tracked, i.e., a conviction is not needed to label a “hate crime.”
- The offender, even the “known offender,” is not necessarily known.
- Historically, Hispanic/Latinos were lumped in with white people as offenders, but not as victims. That changed for the first time this year. However, the 2013 report inexplicably reported that only 13 instances of hate crime were perpetrated by Hispanic offenders.
- People of Middle Eastern and North African descent are combined with white people.
- The most infuriating thing about the fuzzy statistics is that the hate crimes themselves are not available for public scrutiny, rendering the statistics vastly useless. FBI spokesperson Fischer told the author that source information “is law enforcement sensitive and not available other than for law enforcement purposes.”
Without having the ability to review the source data, however, it is very difficult to confirm the information in the report.
This article has been cross-posted from Broadside News.