|December 27, 2004
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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TALLAHASSEE – Reported hate crimes in Florida fell by more than 10 percent in 2003 and the percentage of hate crimes based on the victim's race was the second lowest since reporting began in 1991, Attorney General Charlie Crist said. Releasing the annual Hate Crimes in Florida report for 2003, Crist said a total of 275 hate crimes were reported by local law enforcement agencies that year, down from the 306 total a year earlier. Hate crimes motivated by the victim's religious beliefs also declined, down more than 17 percent from the previous year.
However, the report shows a clear pattern of growth in hate crime incidents motivated by the victim's sexual orientation, Crist said. The number of such incidents, 55, is the third highest single-year total since reporting began. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation accounted for 20 percent of all hate crimes, the highest proportion for this category ever recorded in Florida. In the last four years, Florida law enforcement agencies reported more hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation (194) than the combined total for the first eight years of hate crimes reporting (193).
"Hate crimes are among the most insidious offenses and are a cancer on a civilized society," said Crist. "The effort to eliminate hate-based crime will take community involvement, law enforcement activity and the commitment of individuals throughout Florida. The can be no place in our state for people who target others out of prejudice and hatred."
Race was the motivating factor behind virtually half the reported hate crimes (49.1 percent). A combination of just two motivation categories, race and ethnicity/national origin, accounted for two-thirds (67.6 percent) of all reported hate crimes in 2003. However, the percentage of hate crimes based on race was actually the second lowest since hate crime reporting began and marks only the second time the figure was below 50 percent.
The report also reflects a slight shift away from hate crimes that target individuals and toward crimes against property. Crimes against persons accounted for 68 percent of all hate crimes incidents in 2003, down from 72 percent the previous year. The remainder were hate crimes in which property was targeted.
The Hate Crimes in Florida Report summarizes data collected from local law enforcement agencies by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Any attempt to rank or categorize an agency, county or region based solely on this report may be misleading by making it appear that certain areas have a high number of hate crimes when in fact their law enforcement agencies have more vigorous polices of identifying and reporting such crimes. The report does not include unreported crimes or those that may have been hate related but were not classified as such by the local law enforcement agency.
A copy of the Hate Crimes in Florida 2003 report can be viewed at: http://www.myfloridalegal.com/2003HateCrimesReport.pdf