Terrible Trend

Hate Crimes Rose 2 Percent in 2008

Reports of hate crimes in the U.S. increased by 2 percent from 2007 to 2008, but no one is quite sure what to do with the data. The FBI reports that varying sources of information may create the appearance of an upswing in hate crimes that may not be so dramatic; 2,025 agencies reported for the survey in 2007, but 2,145 submitted numbers in 2008. "The quality of the data is so variable and in some instances so bad that it makes trend analysis extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible," says Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino. Still, Joe Solmonese, who leads the Human Rights Campaign, called for stronger anti-hate crime legislation and deemed the figures “unacceptable.” This past October, President Barack Obama signed a bill increasing the definition of a hate crime, expanding from attacks on race, color, religion, or nationality to include violence based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability.