Hate crimes legislation

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This article is part of the community project
Project:Asian American Public Policy
by students at the University of Maryland.

Articles are under construction until late May, so please refrain from editing until then.


What is a hate crime?

Hate Crime1.jpg
According to the Department of Justice's Federal Bureau of Investigation's 2004 report "Crime in the United States," the government approved definition of a hate crime is "a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin." A hate crime is also known as a bias crime.

Hate Crimes Against Race

The FBI has been collecting statistics on bias (or hate) crimes for over a decade. While almost half of the crimes recorded in 2002 are classified as racial bias, over 16% are classified as bias based on sexual orientation. The year 2001 saw a sharp increase in crimes of religious bias and ethnicity bias in the wake of 9/11. Crimes based on sexual orientation have increased from 1999. FBI Hate Crime Statistics by Race


• In 1998, the FBI received 7,755 reports of hate crime incidents. Of these, over 68% were crimes against persons, and 31%were crimes against property. Intimidation accounted for 55% of the crimes against persons, followed by simple assault (27%) and aggravated assault (17%).
• Of the 7,755 incidents reported in 1998, 56% were motivated by racial bias. These incidents involved 5,514 victims and 4,626 known offenders who were charged with 5,360 separate offenses. Offenses against African Americans constituted 67% of all race-based hate crimes, followed by offenses against whites (18%), Asians/Pacific Islanders (7%), and American Indians/Alaskan Natives (1%).
• Of all known hate crime offenders in 1998, 66% were white, 17% were African-American, 5% were multiracial persons, 2% were Asian/Pacific Islander, and less than 1% were American Indian/Alaskan Native.
• In 1997, 61% of anti-black offenses were committed by whites, 2% by other African Americans, 2% by multi-racial offenders, and less than 1% by both Asians/Pacific Islanders and American Indians/Alaskan Natives. In 1997, 84% of race-based hate crimes committed by African Americans were against whites, 7% were against other African Americans, 5% were against Asians/Pacific Islanders, 4% were against multiracial persons, and less than 1% were against Indians/Alaskan Natives. Hate Crime by race.gif

Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans

Hate crimes against Asian Americans have been around for over 200 years since Asian immigrants first came to the United States. This includes physical attacks, lynching, murders, and hostility. One possible reason for hate crimes against Asian Americans is the need for a scapegoat during times of economic or social crisis. Often when a crisis occurs involving Asia or Asians the backlash of these incidents instigate hate crimes against Asian Americans. [12
Asian americans.jpg

Prevalent legislation

In 1990, Congress enacted the Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990, which mandated that the Attorney General collect data "about crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity." The responsibility of collectiong and implementing this hate crime data was placed on the FBI, which in turn delegated the task to the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) Program.

In September 1994, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was passed by Congress which amended the Hate Crime Statistics Act to incorporate those crimes motivated by bias against those with physical and mental disabilities. In 1996, the Church Arson Act of 1996 directed that hate crime data become a permanent part of the UCR program. The collection of data on offenses motivated by bias against those with physical and mental disabilities began in January of 1997.[10]

The UCR Program

The UCR developed the guidelines for hate crime data collection and recognized that hate crimes are not seperate distinct crimes but rather, are "traditional offenses motivated by the offender's bias." The UCR Program decided that hate crime data could be derived from capturing the addiotnal element of bias in those offenses already being reported to the program, which would in turn fulfill the objectives of the Hate Crime Statistics act without placing an "undue additional reporting burden on law enforcement agencies." The objective of developing this data would be to develop "a substantial body of data about the nature and frequency of bias crimes occuring throughout the Nation."

As a result of the concerted effort to college Hate Crime Data, the law enforcement agencies that participate in the national hate crime program collect details about an offender's bias motivation associated with the following offense types:

  • Murder and nonnegligent manslaugter
  • Forcible rape
  • Aggravated assault
  • Simple assault
  • Intimidation
    Hate Crime2.jpg
  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Larceny-theft
  • Motor vehicle theft
  • Arson
  • Destruction/damage/vandalism of property
  • Other (e.g. Fraud, etc.)[10 ]                                                                                                      

Current Legislation

Hate Crime Statistics Act

The Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990, 28 U.S.C. 534, [1] requires the Attorney General to collect data on crimes committed because of the victim's race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. The bill was signed into law in 1990 by George H. W. Bush, and was the first federal statute to "recognize and name gay, lesbian and bisexual people." [2] Since 1992, the Department of Justice and the FBI have jointly published an annual report on hate crime statistics.
In 1994 Congress expanded the scope to include crimes based on disability, and in 1996 Congress permanently reauthorized the Act.

Campus Hate Crimes Right to Know Act of 1997

The Campus Hate Crimes Right to Know Act of 1997, 20 U.S.C. § 1092, requires campus security authorities to collect and report data on hate crimes committed on the basis of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or disability.

Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (1994)

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, enacted in 28 U.S.C. 994, note Sec. 280003, requires the United States Sentencing Commission to increase the penalties for hate crimes committed on the basis of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person. In 1995, the Sentencing Commission implemented these guidelines, which only apply to federal crimes. [3]

Matthew Shepard Act (under consideration)

On May 3, 2007, the House of Representatives passed the Matthew Shepard Act (officially, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007, or LLEHCPA), HR 1592, [4] which would expand existing United States federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, and which would drop the prerequisite that the victim be engaging in a federally-protected activity. Similar legislation passed in the Senate on September 27, 2007 but President Bush indicated he would veto the legislation if it reached his desk.
The LLEHCPA has been introduced in substantially similar form in each Congress since the 105th Congress in 1999, but has never made it into law. The 2007 bill expands on the earlier versions (originally called the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act) by including transgender provisions and making it explicit that the law should not be interpreted to restrict people's freedom of speech or association. [5]
On April 24th, 2009, the Act passed the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 15–12 and will go to the full House of Representatives for a vote. On April 29, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 249-175 to pass federal hate crimes legislation, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (HR 1913). [6]

1. http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2004/appendix_a.htm
2. http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2004/openpage.htm
3. http://www.adl.org/issue_government/hate_crime_sentencing_act.asp
4. http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-1592
5. http://www.thetaskforce.org/issues/hate_crimes_main_page/timeline
6. http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h1913/show

Incidents of Hate Crimes and Statistics

Each hate crime is viewed by the UCR program as an "incident"' which may or may not have multiple offenses, victims, and offenders. When calculating the number of hate crime offenses against individuals, one offense is counted for each victim. Offenses that are considered as those against individuals are murder, forcible rape, aggravated assault, simple assault, and intimidation. Crimes against property are alloted one offense for each distinct incident, regardless of the number of victims involved.Offenses that are considered as those against property are robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, arson, and destruction/damage/vandalism.

In 2004, the hate crime program reported 7,649 bias-motivated incidents involving 9,035 offenses directed at 9,528 victims. The offenses were committed by 7,145 known offenders. Of these 7,649 incidents 7 were multiple-bias incidents, which is defined as "one in which two or more offense types were motivated by two or more bias types."

The report revealed that  racial prejudice motivated more than half of all the reported single-bias incidents (52.9 percent). They attributed 18.0 percent of the incidents to a religious bias, 15.7 percent to a sexual-orientation bias, and 12.7 percent to an ethnicity/national origin bias. The remaining incidents were ascribed to a disability bias. The breakdown of these bias motivations can be found in table 2.32 below. Additional descriptions of the types of incidents and offenses can be found in figure 2.33. [10]

Table 2.32: Incidents, Offenses, Victims, and Known Offenders by Bias Motivation, 2004
Bias motivation Incidents Offenses Victims1 Known Offenders2
Total 7,649 9,035 9,528 7,145
Single-Bias Incidents 7,642 9,021 9,514 7,136
Race: 4,042 4,863 5,119 4,173
Anti-White 829 998 1,027 1,085
Anti-Black 2,731 3,281 3,475 2,694
Anti-American Indian/Alaskan Native 83 97 100 97
Anti-Asian/Pacific Islander 217 252 266 188
Anti-Multiple Races, Group 182 235 251 109
Religion: 1,374 1,480 1,586 604
Anti-Jewish 954 1,003 1,076 330
Anti-Catholic 57 57 68 37
Anti-Protestant 38 43 48 28
Anti-Islamic 156 193 201 124
Anti-Other Religion 128 140 147 68
Anti-Multiple Religions, Group 35 37 39 14
Anti-Atheism/Agnosticism/etc. 6 7 7 3
Sexual Orientation: 1,197 1,406 1,482 1,258
Anti-Male Homosexual 738 855 902 832
Anti-Female Homosexual 164 201 212 163
Anti-Homosexual 245 297 314 224
Anti-Heterosexual 33 35 36 22
Anti-Bisexual 17 18 18 17
Ethnicity/National Origin: 972 1,201 1,254 1,047
Anti-Hispanic 475 611 646 585
Anti-Other Ethnicity/National Origin 497 590 608 462
Disability: 57 71 73 54
Anti-Physical 23 23 24 16
Anti-Mental 34 48 49 38
Multiple-Bias Incidents3 7 14 14 9

1 The term "victim" may refer to a person, business, institution, or society as a whole.

2 The term "known offender" does not imply that the identity of the suspect is known, but only that an attribute of the subject has been identified, which distinguishes him/her from an unknown offender.

3 A multiple-bias incident only occurs when two or more offense types are committed in a single incident. In a situation where there is more than one offense type, the agency can indicate a different bias motivation for each offense type. In the case of a single offense type, only one bias motivation can be indicated.

Table 2.33: Incidents, Offenses, Victims, and Known Offenders by Offense Type, 2004
Offense type Incidents Offenses Victims Known Offenders
Total 7,649 9,035 9,528 7,145
Crimes against persons: 4,503 5,642 5,642 5,710
Murder and non-negligent manslaughter 5 5 5 5
Forcible rape 4 4 4 5
Aggravated assault 765 1,040 1,040 1,316
Simple assault 1,448 1,750 1,750 2,190
Intimidation 2,267 2,827 2,827 2,173
Other4 14 16 16 21
Crimes against property: 3,333 3,333 3,826 1,711
Robbery 112 112 142 241
Burglary 146 146 169 130
Larceny-theft 169 169 186 134
Motor vehicle theft 15 15 15 8
Arson 44 44 57 45
Destruction/damage/vandalism 2,812 2,812 3,220 1,115
Other4 35 35 37 38
Crimes against society4 60 60 60 75

1 The actual number of incidents is 7,649. However, the column figures will not add to the total because incidents may include more than one offense type, and these are counted in each appropriate offense type category.

2 The term "victim" may refer to a person, business, institution, or society as a whole.

3 The term "known offender" does not imply that the identity of the suspect is known, but only that an attribute of the suspect has been identified, which distinguishes him/her from an unknown offender. The actual number of known offenders is 7,145. However, the column figures will not add to the total because some offenders are responsible for more than one offense type, and they are, therefore, counted more than once in this table.

4 Includes additional offenses collected in the NIBRS.

Backlash from other Major Incidents

Japanese American Internment

After the Japanese navy attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, it set off an overwhelming wave of racism, prejudice, and ignorance. Immediately after the attacks, government and military officials suspected that Japanese Americans would sympathize with and even actively support Japan against the U.S. President Roosevelt issued the Executive Order 9066 which effectively revoked the rights of Japanese Americans (two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens) and eventually led to about 112,000 Japanese Americans being rounded up and thrown into prison camps in nine states. The lives of Japanese Americans were devastated -- not only were their economic lives destroyed, their emotional security was shattered, but their cultural traditions were severely damaged as well. That is, their tradition of self-reliance was replaced by being forced to rely on the government for their most basic needs. On January 2, 1945, the Executive Order was finally rescinded and all Japanese American prisoners were allowed to leave. [7]

Vincent Chin

One of the most dishonorable and well-known cases of anti-Asian violence was the murder of Vincent Chin in 1982 by two unemployed auto workers in Detroit , Michigan . Chin, a Chinese American, was beaten to death with a baseball bat in a parking lot by the men who blamed the Japanese auto industry for their economic hardship. In the first trial in Wayne County Criminal Court in 1983, the prosecutor of the case did not show up for the sentencing hearing; there were no advocacy groups present; and neither Lily Chin, Vincent's mother, nor any of the witnesses was called to testify. The men received three years probation and were fined only $3,000 for Chin's death at a sentencing hearing. Chin's case instigated coordinated organizing of Asian-Americans across the country, and a five-year legal battle. In the end, the men who killed Chin were acquitted of the charges. While Chin's case was frustrating for the Asian-American community, it also represented a turning point for APA population in the U.S. in solidarity to work together and oppose forces hostile to the communities. [8]

Mijanur Rahman and Mohommed Sakawat

Hossein In 2002, two men, Mijanur Rahman and Mohammed Sakawat Hossain, were both killed within three months of each other in Brooklyn, New York. Rahman was beaten to death with baseball bats, hockey sticks, iron rods, and bamboo sticks; Hossain was both beaten with a bat and stabbed. Both men were originally from Bangladesh Rahman, a photojournalist and a college student. Weeks after Hossain's killing, another Bangladeshi man was assaulted. Leaders of the Bangladeshi community in Brooklyn attributed the killings and assaults to the economic success of Bangladeshi businesses in the neighborhoods and the continuing backlash from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Police have been reluctant to label the attacks as racially-motivated hate crimes. [9]

Sylvia Kim

Sylvia Kim, an older Korean-American woman, was exiting a bookstore in downtown San Francisco in 1997 when she was approached by a large man. He repeatedly yelled at her, “My mother is not Chinese but yours is”, following Kim before picking her up and throwing her against a wall. Kim's hip was shattered, and as she lay on the ground hurt and unable to move, two strangers approached her to help. [9]

Post 9/11: Increased Incidents Against Asian Americans

According to a report released by the South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow entitled,  “American Backlash: Terrorists Bring War Home In More Ways Than One,” there were 645 incidents of backlash against Americans of South Asian or Middle Eastern descent in the week following the Sept. 11 attack. The report highlighted thatSouth Asians were involved in 81 (13%) of the reported incidents. Practicing Sikhs, in particular, were among those who were singled out. The offenses included 17 cases of harassment, five threats, five cases of vandalism, and eight assaults including the shooting death of a Sikh station owner in Mesa, Arizona on September 15. [11]

Reported Incidents against South Asians

Below you will find quotes from reports of 9/11 backlash against South Asians from various media outlets.

  • Two young men screamed obscenities at a Sikh farmer in Bakersfield, California on Tuesday afternoon. (Bakersfield Californian, 9/14/01)
  • An Indian-immigrant gas station owner was shot and killed and a Lebanese-American clerk at another Mesa gas station was shot at, police said Sunday. The East Valley Tribune reported that the 42-year-old suspect shouted, "I stand for America all the way," as he was handcuffed Saturday night. (Associated Press, 9/16/01)
  • A Fremont Sikh who works as a truck driver was beaten up Tuesday night in the Los Angeles area while working. (The Argus, 9/13/01)
  • Thursday night, police arrested a 31-year-old man after a small fire at a Pakistani-owned restaurant in Salt Lake City, around 7 p.m. The arsonist allegedly ignited gasoline at the back of the building but caused only minor damage because customers doused the flames. The man "stated that he did this because of what happened on Tuesday. (Salt Lake Tribune, 9/15/01)
  • At a convenience store in New Port Richey, Florida someone thought he was lashing out at a Muslim by scrawling a threat and a crudely drawn skull-andcrossbones on a white piece of paper. When the Indian owner unlocked his store Thursday morning, he found a sign taped to the door: "Leave this country, or you will die." (St. Petersburg Times, 9/15/01)
  • Three teens in Somerset, Massachusetts, were arrested after lobbing a firebomb onto the roof of a convenience store owned by an American citizen from India. "They think we're from the Middle East," said the owner, who stepped out of his store and saw the three running into the woods just after 10 p.m. Wednesday. The fire caused $ 1,000 in damages. Two of the teens told police "they wanted to get back at the Arabs for what they did in New York," (Boston Herald, 9/14/01)
  • On Long Island, a market in Smithtown owned by a native of Pakistan was the target of what the police considered a probable arson attack Wednesday morning. New York Times, 9/14/01)
  • A truck driver who travels with about 12 other Sikhs from Solano County, California throughout the Bay Area said "I heard one guy on the CB ... he said,'We will kill you, you (extreme profanity) ... we will put a bomb on you,' " Virk said. "He doesn't know what we are - Sikh, Muslim, Hindu - he just kept cussing." (The Reporter, 9/15/01)
  • A man called in a bomb threat to a hotel in Augusta, Georgia owned by Indians, whom he insisted were Muslim. (Augusta Chronicle, 9/16/01)
  • Two Pakistani-owned convenience stores in Quincy, MA were hit by vandals. Someone smashed the window of one store, and the words "support boycott"were spray painted on two windows of the other. (Patriot Ledger, 9/13/01)
  • Passengers threw a bottle of chlorine at a Pakistani-owned gas station in Fall River, Massachusetts on Thursday night. Although the bottle did not break, there could potentially have been a massive explosion had the chlorine impacted closer to the gasoline tanks, according to the station manager. (Herald News, 9/16/01)
  • A man walked into a Pakistani-owned store in Racine, Wisconsin on Tuesday and started talking about the terrorist attacks. He said it was the first time this had happened, that it shouldn't happen like this, and he speculated who was responsible. The owner told him it was too early to point fingers, that all the facts weren't in. "He started yelling at me and screaming at me, you must go back to your country, and calling me this and that," said the owner. "And that just made me really sad." (Journal Times, 9/12/01)
  • Since Tuesday's terrorist attack, about a dozen customers have asked a Sikh gas station owner if he is from Iraq. Friday he posted the sign at his station stating: "I am Indian. I am Sikh. I am not Muslim." He had an unpleasant encounter Friday with an elderly man who saw the sign and told him, in vulgar language, he didn't care what country Singh was from, that he didn't belong here because he is not a citizen. (Post-Crescent, 9/15/01)
  • A Sikh cab driver from Washington state was shocked Thursday night when an intoxicated man who had hailed his cab at a SeaTac bar suddenly started screaming at him, accusing him of being a Middle-East terrorist. "He said, 'You have no right to attack our country,' " the driver said yesterday. "I said, 'No, man, I'm from India! You have the wrong idea!' "But he just started beating me." Behind bars yesterday was the 31-year-old California man who allegedly attacked the cab driver, punching him, choking him and tearing out tufts of his religiously important beard. (Seattle Times, 9/15/01)
  • In Tulsa, a Pakistani man was badly beaten Tuesday when he was jumped outside a gas station. With missing teeth and swollen eyes, he said he still proclaimed his love for America. (Norman Transcript, 9/16/01)

There are many more incidents, but these are just afew covered by [mostly] local media outlets. [11]

Correct Response to Hate Crimes

Reporting and accurately collecting data and information are vital activities to responding to hate crimes. Given the inequalities of reporting and data collection by the U.S government and other agencies, it is difficult to state with certainty trends affecting APA populations or the actual extent of the problem. Further, not all acts of hate reach a criminal level and many hate incidents are not being reported; however, the effects of intimidation can still be great. [9]

How to Prevent Incidents of Hate Crime

1) Developing specific governmental and institutional policies that detail the processes and responses that will be undertaken in the event of a hate incident.

2) Organization and coalition-building among minority communities, law enforcement, and other local institutions can help prevent and effectively address violence.

3) Creating and adapting educational curricula and programs that can be incorporated into schools and communities to prevent and combat hate crimes and incidents. [9]

Articles and resources

[1] http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2004/appendix_a.htm
[2] http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2004/openpage.htm
[3] http://www.adl.org/issue_government/hate_crime_sentencing_act.asp
[4] http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-1592
[5] http://www.thetaskforce.org/issues/hate_crimes_main_page/timeline
[6] http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h1913/show
[7] "Construction and Destruction." Asian Nation. 25 APR 2009 http://www.asian-nation.org/internment.shtml.
[8] Yip, Alethea . "Remembering Vincent Chin." Yellowworld.org. Yellow World. 25 APR 2009 <http://yellowworld.org/antiasian_violence/263.html>.
[9] "Anti-Asian Violence." Violence Affecting Asian-American and Pacific Islander Communities. University of Michigan. 25 APR 2009 http://www.sph.umich.edu/apihealth/2006/antiasian.htm.
[10] Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation. "Hate Crimes." Crime in the United States 2004. <http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_04/offenses_reported/hate_crime/index.html>
[11] South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow. “American Backlash: Terrorists Bring War Home In More Ways Than One.” www.saalt.org. 25 April 2009 <http://www.saalt.org/attachments/1/American%20Backlash%20report.pdf>.
[12] "Anti-Asian Racism and Violence." Asian Nation. 1 MAY 2009 <http://www.asian-nation.org/racism.shtml>.