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News Roundup

Hate Crimes Against Blacks Outpace Other Races

nooseThe election of President Barack Obama sparked a flame of solidarity in the hearts of many Americans, but it also ignited hostility, fear and bigotry that allegedly caused three men in Massachusetts to burn down a black church on Nov. 5.

The election of the first African-American president has caused a surge in activity of white supremacist groups, according to a new report, “Confronting the New Faces of Hate: Hate Crimes in America,” released Tuesday by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund. The report highlights several hate crime incidents against people from all races, religions, and sexual orientations; several involving the president.

Of the 7,624 hate crime incidents reported nationwide in 2007, the most recent year for which data is available, 34% were perpetrated against African Americans. After Obama’s election victory in November, white supremacist online activity spiked, the authors write.

“The idea of a black man in the White House, combined with the deepening economic crisis and continuing high levels of Latino immigration, has given white supremacists a real platform on which to recruit,” wrote Mark Potok, editor of the Intelligence Report published by the Southern Poverty Leadership Conference.

Although blacks may receive the majority of the attacks, hate crimes have increased significantly against Hispanics and against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. From 2003 to 2007, the number of hate crimes reported against Hispanics increased nearly 40% to 7.8% and rose to 16.6% — a five year high–for LGBTs.

“The marked increase in hate violence against Hispanics correlates closely with the increasingly heated debate over comprehensive immigration reform,” write the authors.

The report recommends that Congress pass the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crime Prevention Act, which would amend the Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990 and mandate hate crime data collection for bias-motivated violence directed at LGBT individuals, and for crimes committed by and against juveniles.

— Marcia A. Wade