It appears blacks can commit hate crimes although i dont think anyone was charged with a hate crime. The charge doesnt exist in Florida.
Published: Dec 29, 2005
ST. PETERSBURG - Despite a report that lists St. Petersburg as Florida's hate-crime capital, the city is not a hotbed for such incidents, the police chief said Wednesday.
The information, from Attorney General Charlie Crist, shows reported hate crimes statewide increased 21.5 percent in 2004, with 49 incidents in St. Petersburg, more than any other Florida community and most of Pinellas County's 63 cases.
By contrast, 27 hate crimes were reported in Hillsborough County, including 13 in Tampa. Pasco County reported six.
St. Petersburg's ranking stems from the May 2004 civil disturbances, which accounted for 29 of the city's 49 incidents. The unrest came after a jury's rejection of a $1.6 million lawsuit brought by the family of TyRon Lewis, a black motorist slain by a white police officer during a 1996 traffic stop.
Seventeen of the incidents involved white drivers who had rocks thrown at their cars while driving past crowds of blacks protesting the verdict.
"We felt, based on our investigations that night, that they were motivated by race," Police Chief Chuck Harmon said. "That's the reason certain people were targeted, and that's the reason we classified them as hate crimes."
This year, reported hate crimes in the city have dropped to 12 incidents and 13 victims, Harmon said. The chief also suggested his department reports such incidents more vigorously than other agencies.
Statewide, hate crimes reported by 95 law enforcement agencies rose to 334 in 2004, up from 275 in 2003. Offenses attributed to race increased slightly, and those based on sexual orientation decreased.
State legislators in 1989 passed several laws on hate crimes, including one that requires the attorney general to publish an annual summary. The motivation behind the crime is the key to determining whether an incident is hate-related, but it is up to individual law enforcement agencies to make that determination.
"Our report can only reflect the numbers provided to the state," said Jon Peck, a spokesman for Crist. "There are larger communities that reported fewer than some smaller communities."
A hate crime is defined as "an act committed or attempted by one person or group against another, or their property, that in any way constitutes an expression of hatred toward the victim based on his or her personal characteristics" and a crime in which the victim is selected on the basis of race, color, religion, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, advanced age or mental-physical disability.
The Florida totals are significantly different from those of some neighboring states, according to the FBI. For example, in 2004, Georgia reported 34 hate crimes and Alabama reported five. California led the nation with 1,644 reported offenses. Mississippi had the fewest, two.
The latest report covers Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2004, and the total of 334 incidents was the third-highest on record.
The report does not identify reasons for the increase but suggests variations in reporting methods and better training and investigating by law enforcement could have played a role.
In Florida, 53 percent of the crimes in 2004 involved some type of physical assault, according to the state report. The motivation involved race in 56.9 percent of the incidents, sexual orientation in 15.6 percent, ethnicity in 15.3 percent and religion in 12.3 percent.
BAY AREA BREAKDOWN
In 2004, law enforcement agencies across the state reported a total of 334 hate crimes. St. Petersburg topped the list with 49 victims. Tampa police reported 13. Here is a breakdown by county.
Source: Florida attorney general's office
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