(SACRAMENTO) - Attorney General Bill Lockyer today released the "Hate Crime in California 2004" report showing the number of hate crime events reported in California in 2004 decreased by 5.5 percent compared to 2003. The reduction in hate crime events is the third consecutive year of decreases. More importantly, the number of hate crime events, offenses, victims, and known suspects in 2004 are the lowest reported for the 10-year period between 1995 and 2004.
"Diversity is essential to California's social and economic strength," Lockyer said. "That is why we must continue to do everything possible to raise public awareness about the threat hate crimes pose to our communities and keep the number of hate crimes down."
According to the annual report, "Hate Crime in California 2004," the number of hate crime events - incidents that may involve more than one victim, suspect or criminal act - dropped 5.5 percent from 2003. Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors reported 1,409 hate crime events in 2004, compared to 2003, when 1,491 events were reported. Significantly, the number of hate crime events in the "other ethnicity or national origin" category, which includes those based on an anti-Arab or anti-Middle Eastern bias, showed the greatest decline, plummeting 34.8 percent (105 in 2004, compared to 161 in 2003).
The latest report shows there were 1,741 hate crime victims in 2004, a drop of 4.1 percent from the 1,815 victims reported in 2003. The number of suspects involved in hate crimes dropped 8.2 percent (1,495 in 2004, versus 1,629 in 2003). The number of hate crime offenses dropped 2.5 percent, from 1,815 in 2003 to 1,770 in 2004.
Of hate crime victims, 89.1 percent, or 1,552, were individuals; 4.3 percent, or 75, involved government property; 3.3 percent, or 57, were religious organizations; and 2.5 percent, or 44, were business or financial institutions.
Crime data presented in the report shows that sexual orientation hate crime events decreased 22 percent from 337 in 2003 to 263 in 2004 while religion-motivated hate crime events decreased 6.8 percent from 220 in 2003 to 205 in 2004. Race/ethnicity/national origin hate crime events remained about the same for both years.
Anti-Hispanic hate crime events increased 34 percent from 103 in 2003 to 138 in 2004. Anti-white hate crimes decreased 28.2 percent from 85 in 2003 to 61 in 2004. In addition, anti-black hate crimes and anti-Asian/Pacific Islander hate crimes increased eight percent and 4.6 percent, respectively, from their 2003 values.
According to the report, race/ethnicity/national origin hate crime offenses have consistently been the largest bias motivation category of hate crimes since 1995, accounting for at least 60 percent of all hate crime offenses. Within this category, anti-black hate crimes continue to be the largest bias-motivation accounting for at least 26 percent of these offenses every year since 1995. The number of anti-black hate crimes fluctuated from 2000 to 2004, with the largest decrease of 3.6 percent in 2001 and the largest increase of 4.6 percent in 2004.
Prosecutors filed 371 hate crime cases, or 91.2 percent of the 407 cases referred by law enforcement agencies. About nine percent, or 36 cases, were rejected for various reasons, such as insufficient evidence or lack of witness. Of the 371 cases filed, 277, or 74.7 percent, were filed as hate crimes, and 94 cases, or 25.3 percent, were filed as non-bias motivated crimes. In 2004, of the cases resulting in a disposition: 139, or 50 percent, resulted in a hate crime conviction; 103, or 37.1 percent, resulted in other convictions; and 36, or 12.9 percent, resulted in no conviction.
Released annually since 1995, the report highlights reported criminal acts where there is a reasonable cause to believe the crime was 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. Out of the 725 law enforcement agencies that report hate crime totals, in 2004, only 245 had hate crimes reported in their jurisdictions.
The report is available at http://ag.ca.gov/cjsc/publications/hatecrimes/hc04/preface.pdf