The nearly 7,800 hate crimes reported in an FBI compilation released yesterday is probably just a small fraction of the actual number, says National Public Radio. A 2005 federal survey of victims estimated 191,000 such crimes, says Brian Levin of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
Attacks on gay people are not recognized as hate crimes in some states. In addition, many victims do not want to make their sexual orientation public. “The most frightening thing about these numbers is what goes unrecorded,” said Janet Murguia of the National Council of La Raza, who noted that illegal immigrants are wary of involving law enforcement. Heidi Beirich of the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center expects to see an increase in the targeting of African-Americans because of the uptick in hate group activity before President Obama’s election.