Hate crimes hit seven-year high

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The incidence of hate crimes in the United States in 2008 hit a seven-year high, according to data released Monday by the FBI.

The 7,783 documented hate crimes in 2008 represented  a 2.1 percent increase from 2007 and the highest since 2001.

 Of the 1,519 religion-based hate crimes, also at a seven-year high, 1,013 — or 66 percent — were directed against Jews and Jewish institutions.

The FBI report also found the highest number of crimes directed at blacks, Jews and gay men and lesbians since 2001.

"While the increase in the number of hate crimes may be partially attributed to improved reporting, the fact that these numbers remain elevated — particularly the significant rise in the number of victims selected on the basis of religion or sexual orientation — should be of concern to every American," said ADL national director Abraham Foxman and ADL national chair Robert Sugarman.

In response, the ADL called for a "coordinated campaign to prevent, deter, and respond effectively to criminal violence motivated by bigotry and prejudice — including training on the provisions of the new Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, more vigorous enforcement of existing laws, and anti-bias education and anti-bullying programs for schools and communities."
 

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