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Race still most frequent motive for hate crimes, FBI report says

SHARE Race still most frequent motive for hate crimes, FBI report says

WASHINGTON — Racial prejudice motivated more than half the 7,876 hate crimes committed in 1999 that were reported to the FBI, the bureau said Tuesday.

As in 1998, '97 and '96, racial bias was the most common motivation for hate crimes, accounting for 4,295 incidents in 1999.

There also were 1,411 incidents attributed to prejudice against the target's religion, 1,317 incidents over sexual orientation, 829 over ethnic or national origin, 19 over disabilities and five over multiple prejudices, the FBI said.

The data came from 12,122 law enforcement agencies in 48 states and the District of Columbia, representing 85 percent of the nation's population.

In 1998, there were 7,755 hate crime incidents, of which 4,321 were racially motivated. But the 1998 data came from 10,730 law enforcement agencies in 46 states and the District of Columbia, representing 80 percent of the nation's population.

So the 1999 total was 121 higher than the 1998 figure, but the data came from 1,392 more police agencies than in 1998.

Because the number of agencies reporting varies under the voluntary system established by the Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990, officials caution against drawing conclusions about trends in hate crime volumes between years. They say the figures provide a rough picture of the general nature of hate crimes.

In 1999, crimes against people accounted for 66.5 percent of the offenses, with intimidation the most frequent of all hate crimes at 35.1 percent of the total. Vandalism and destruction of property accounted for 28.5 percent of all reported offenses, simple assault for 19 percent and aggravated assault for 12 percent.

Seventeen people were murdered in 1999 hate crimes, with nine attributed to race bias and three apiece to bias against sexual orientation and prejudice against ethnic/national origin. Religious bias motivated two murders.

Of the 9,802 hate crime victims, 82.8 percent were people and the remainder were businesses, religious organizations or other targets. Of the total victims, 56.3 percent were targeted because of their race. Blacks were by far the most frequent victims of hate crimes, numbering 3,679 or 37.5 percent of all victims.

Of the 1,686 victims of religious bias, more than 65 percent involved crimes against property. The majority of victims, 1,289, were Jewish.

In 1999, the largest segment of hate crime incidents occurred on residential property, 28.7 percent. Incidents in alleys, streets or highways accounted for 18.5 percent of total incidents, and another 10.2 percent occurred at schools or colleges. The rest were at varied locations.