Hate crimes are crimes motivated by bias against an individual s actual or perceived race, ethical background, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or gender. Examples include assault and battery, vandalism, or threats which involve bias indicators-pieces of evidence like bigoted name-calling or graffiti. A hate crime is a civil rights violation under State laws and, in some cases, federal law. Hate crimes are not only crimes against the targeted victim, but also against a particular group as a whole. Hate crimes are attacks on communities. Effective action against hate incidents requires that these crimes be eported to police, and, in schools, to an administrator or teacher.
Only if a hate crime is reported to local law enforcement, or to local school authorities can there be action taken to deal with it. In schools is where the majority of hate crimes are committed. There are in many states, although not including Ohio, where a Governor s Task Force on Hate Crimes is committed to educating law enforcement, schools, and communities, to better prevent and respond to these crimes. I have gathered helpful information and a wide array of stat s on hate crimes, as well as support services.
I would like to begin by touching base on a particular project called Student Civil Rights Project. The Student Civil Rights Project is a model program initiated by the state of Massachusetts, Governor s Task Force on Hate Crimes in April 1998. The focus of the project is to research, develop and coordinate solutions to combat prejudice and hate motivated violence in Massachusetts schools. This program is a long-term solution that builds on community resources by strengthening communication and partnership between schools, law enforcement, nd community based organizations.
This past summer a diverse group of high school and college students from across Massachusetts came together to identify, explore, review and design curricula and resources that school communities can use to combat violence and hatred. The curricula being used in schools and youth organizations are based upon a few basic principles: Violence and prejudice are learned attitudes and behaviors. We have the ability to change our attitudes and how we act upon them.
Prejudice and violence prevention must take place with early intervention and education. Awareness and appreciation of individual differences are central to eliminating bias-motivated violence. Helping students develop empathy skills to encouraging youth to put themselves in the place of another person has proven effective in reducing hate- motivated violence. Recognition of individual responsibility is necessary, encouraging students, youth, and school personnel to take action and make a difference is vital. Now I would like to briefly discuss hate groups and their strategies.
Membership in the oldest and prototypical hate groups, the various groups that bear the name Ku Klux Klan, is near a historic low of about 5500. Another 17,000 people belong to similar groups. But these relatively low and seemingly declining numbers ought not lead you of good will to minimize the dangers of organized hate violence. In part, the decline in organized hate groups is a tribute to the efforts of their opponents. For instance, in 1987 a lawsuit by the Southern Poverty Law Center resulted in a $7 million judgment against the United States Klans of America.
In 1993, the Center shut down the Invisible Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. And, together with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), successfully litigated a $12. 5 million judgment against the White Aryan Resistance. But, with the success of these lawsuits, hate groups have adopted a new strategy. Instead of orchestrating and perpetrating their own acts of violence, the new hate groups increasingly are advancing their views through the Internet, literature distribution, broadcasts over public access television, and grassroots organizing.
The question for many is: How do we preserve the constitutional right to free speech, while countering the calls to bigotry and even violence? Brian Levin, Project Director or Klanwatch, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, says: There are racist, horrific, godless messages on the Net that encourage people to violence. They can say that every Black in the United States should be killed, that there should be another Holocaust. But the people posting these messages can t be prosecuted because they can t be specifically linked to subsequent action.
In short, the answer is to counter hate speech with more compelling speech promoting the vision of an America where we live together in mutual respect and celebrate our diversity. Several civil rights organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, NAACP, ACLU, and the Simon Wisenthal Center have already begun a process like this, and the LCCR and LCEF will soon launch a joint Web Page to answer the hatemongers, advance intergroup relations, and promote an appreciation of how the civil rights movement has changed our country for the better.
Hate groups are recruiting among two very different sectors of the population-young people alienated from society and more mainstream adults who are angry at the federal government. All this suggests that we may be witnessing not the decline of organized hate groups but their evolution. Just as we must remain vigilant against the Klan, so must we monitor and oppose the new breed of hate groups and paramilitary organizations. I would now like to focus on the statistics that are relevant to Hate Crimes and their impact on our society and communities as wholes.
While I concentrate on the following statistics, be advised that while it is reassuring that the statistics indicate relatively few people who commit hate crimes are committed members of hate groups, the predominance of less-dedicated offenders also argues for national action. These offenders have caught the viruses of bigotry and violence that exist throughout our society-indeed, many believe that attacking members of minority groups or women will gain them the esteem of others.
By changing the climate of opinion in our communities and conducting special rograms to deter would-be offenders and rehabilitate existing ones, I feel that we can reduce the number of hate crimes. In 1960, General Ohio Crime Rates were at 151,307 total crimes, that means that 1,558. 8 people out of every 100,000 people would commit a crime of many sorts. In 1997, General Ohio Crime Rates were at 11,186,000 total crimes, that means that 4,514. 6 people out of every 100,000 people would commit a crime of many sorts. According to the U. S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Uniform Hate Crime Report, in 1995 7,947 total hate crimes ere reported and investigated by the FBI.
Now keep in your mind, that only reported incidents can be calculated in their reports. From what I have been able to gather from all the research and findings is that the majority of hate crimes are not reported due to public humiliation that entails people following subsequently there after. For example, when a young gay male is the target of the aggression, they might feel impelled not to report it due to the fact that they do not want the information of their sexual orientation to become public or for their parents and relatives to find out their sexual orientation.
In 1996, according to the FBI Hate Crime Report, 8,759 total incidents were reported. 5,396 of those were because of race, 940 were due to Ethnical/National Origin, 1,401 were due to religion, and 1,016 were due to Sexual Orientation. Again keep this in mind also, that these numbers are per incident. One incident might envolve a number of different victims. In 1997, according to the FBI Hate Crime Report, 8,049 total incidents were reported and checked into by the FBI. 4,710 due to Race, 1,385 due to religion, 1,102 due to sexual orientation, 836 due to Ethnical/National Origion, and 12 due to Disability.
Now when I see numbers of incidents caused from hate crimes due to disabilities, in particular, I begin to get very disterbed, what kind of asswhole attacks disabled persons? In closing I will leave you with this thought to ponder on, Hate Crimes are acts of violence directed against people because of their racial, religious, ethnic, gender or sexual identity. They are also acts of violence against the American ideal: that we can make on nation out of many different people.
That simple but powerful idea is what makes our nation different from others where people persecute each other because of how they look, how they speak, or how they worship God. In our own time, in troubled places such as the former Yugoslavia, the Middle East, and Northern Ireland we are witnessing once again the age-old tragedy of people committing horrific acts of violence against each other because they refuse to look beyond their differences to respect each other s inherent human dignity.