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Hate crimes in the U.S. saw a slight decline overall in 2007, but crimes against gay and lesbian victims increased over the previous year, according to statistics released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
In its report Hate Crime Statistics, 2007, the FBI analyzes 7,624 hate crime incidents involving 9,006 offenses reported to the agency -- including breakdowns of each incident by victim characteristics, type of offense, characteristics of offender, and location where the hate crime was committed. Overall, the FBI reports that 50.8 percent of hate crimes in 2007 were motivated by a racial bias, 18.4 percent were motivated by a religious bias, and 16.6 percent were motivated by a sexual orientation bias. There were 5,408 hate crimes committed against people in 2007 -- including assaults and acts of intimidation. 3,579 hate crimes were classified as crimes against property, with the majority (81 percent) acts of vandalism and property destruction.
Hate crimes are acts of physical violence, threats, and property damage intended to hurt or intimidate someone because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious, sexual orientation, or disability. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, "Of all crimes, hate crimes are most likely to create or exacerbate tensions, which can trigger larger community-wide racial conflict, civil disturbances, and even riots. Hate crimes put cities and towns at-risk of serious social and economic consequences." If you have information about the possible commission of a hate crime, look in the "blue pages" of your local telephone book and contact your local FBI field office or police department.