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(SAN FRANCISCO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced the number of hate crimes reported in California in 2003 dropped for the second consecutive year.
"This is a heartening trend that we hope will continue," Lockyer said. "In 2003, we saw an across-the-board decline in the number of hate crime victims and the number of hate crimes committed. But even one hate crime is intolerable, and we will continue our efforts to police and prevent hate crimes so that our residents may live without fear in a state that embraces diversity."
The annual report shows in 2003, law enforcement agencies reported 1,491 hate crime events – or incidents that may involve more than one victim, suspect or criminal act. That number represents a 10.1 percent decrease in the 1,659 hate crime incidents reported in 2002. It marks the second year of decline following a spike in 2001, which was attributed to anti-Arab hate crimes in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The "2003 Hate Crime in California" report shows an across-the-board decrease in the number of victims, hate crimes and known suspects. The number of hate crime victims has decreased every year since 1999, with the exception of 2001, when there was a spike in crimes targeting Middle Eastern and Muslim individuals following the September 11 terrorist attack. In 2003, the number of victims of bias-motivated crimes dropped 9.6 percent, from 2,007 hate crime victims in 2002 to 1,815. The number of hate crime offenses dropped 9.7 percent, from 2,009 in 2002 to 1,815 in 2003. The number of known suspects decreased 17 percent, from 1,963 in 2002 to 1,629 in 2003.
The only significant increase in hate crimes occurred in the property crimes category, which rose 14.4 percent over 2002 figures. The number of destruction/vandalism offenses, which since 1998 have accounted for at least 90 percent of all hate-based property crime, increased 17.5 percent from the 2002 totals. Destruction/vandalism made up 94.1 percent of property crimes in 2003, followed by burglary with 4.4 percent, arson with 0.9, and larceny-theft.
Violent crime continues to make up the majority of hate crime offenses, 69 percent, while property crimes make up 31 percent of bias-motivated offenses. Violent crimes, however, dropped 17.5 percent, from 1,517 in 2002, to 1,252 in 2003.
Of those violent crime offenses, 529, or 42.3 percent were categorized as intimidation; 477, or 38.1 percent, were simple assault; and 179, or 14.3 percent, were aggravated assault. There were 61 hate-based robberies, four murders and two forcible rapes reported in 2003.
Hate crime events motivated by race, ethnicity or national origin dropped 11.8 percent from 2002. Those 914 crime events made up the majority (61.3 percent) of all bias-motivated crimes events. Other bias-motivated events reported were sexual orientation, 22.6 percent, or 337 events; and religion, 14.8 percent, or 220. Gender was a factor in 1.3 percent, or 19 events; and disability-bias was the basis of 0.1 percent, or one event.
Hate crimes against Hispanics had the greatest decline, 34 percent, of all crime events based on race, ethnicity or national origin. Of those events reported as motivated by race, ethnicity or national origin, 50.7 percent, or 463, were "Anti-black"; 17.6 percent, or 161, were "Anti-other ethnicity/national origin", which includes Arab or Middle Eastern bias; 11.3 percent, or 103, were "Anti-Hispanic"; 9.3 percent, or 85, were "Anti-white", and 7.2 percent, or 66, were "Anti-Asian/Pacific Islander."
The report also notes that data submitted in 2003 show that hate crime events that occurred in parking lots and garages increased 30.9 percent from 2002, while events that occurred on highways, roads, alleys and streets decreased 16.8 percent. In 2003, 30.4 percent of hate crime events occurred in a residence, home or driveway, while 28.5 percent occurred on a highway, road, alley or street. Almost 10 percent, or 141 event, occurred at a school or college; 6 percent, or 89 events, occurred in a parking lot or garage, and 4.3 percent, or 64 events occurred at a church, synagogue or temple.
Prosecutors filed 374 hate crime cases, or 81 percent of the 462 cases referred by law enforcement agencies. About 19 percent, or 88 cases, were rejected for various reasons, such as insufficient evidence or lack of witness. Of the 374 cases filed, 304, or 81.3 percent, were filed as hate crimes, and 70 cases, or 18.7 percent, were filed as non-bias motivated crimes. Of those filed as hate crimes, 223 cases (73.4 percent) resulted in a disposition: 128, or 57.4 percent, resulted in a hate crime conviction; 69, or 30.9 percent, resulted in other convictions; and 26, or 11.7 percent, resulted in no conviction. Eighty-one cases were pending in 2003.
Of hate crime victims, 91.7 percent, or 1,664, were individuals; 3.4 percent, or 61, were government property; 2.6 percent, or 48, were religious organizations; and 2.3, or 41, were business or financial institutions.
Released annually since 1995, the report compiles information on criminal acts believed to be motivated in part by the victim's race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin or physical or mental disability. All law enforcement agencies are required by state law to report such crimes to the Attorney General's Office.
The report is available at http://ag.ca.gov/cjsc/publications/hatecrimes/hc03/preface.pdf