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FBI: Number of hate crimes, and victims, fell in 2009

WASHINGTON - The number of hate crimes and victims declined in 2009 compared with the previous year, the FBI reported yesterday.

Of more than 6,000 hate crime offenders, more than six in 10 were white while nearly two in 10 were black.

Nearly half of the crimes in 2009 were motivated by racial bias, nearly 20 percent by religious bias and more than 18 percent by sexual orientation bias.

More than half the reported hate crimes against individual people were assaults, said the FBI. One out of 100 involved murder or rape.

There were 6,604 hate crimes reported last year, down from 7,783 in 2008. There were 8,336 reported victims, down from 9,691 in 2008. The victim totals include not only individuals but also businesses, religious buildings and other institutions.

The year-to-year figures in the FBI reports for 2009 and 2008 are not exactly comparable because the number of law enforcement agencies providing data to the bureau on hate crime went up last year to more than 14,000, compared with 13,690 in 2008.

Given the recent decline in crime generally, "it's certainly possible there is less hate crime," said Ryan King, an associate professor of sociology at the University at Albany.

Violent crime dropped by 11.2 percent and property crimes 5.5 percent from 2008 levels, according to Justice Department data.

The report said that out of about 4,000 victims of racial bias, seven in 10 were victims because of prejudice against blacks.

Out of nearly 1,600 victims of anti-religious bias, about the same proportion - seven of 10 - stemmed from anti-Jewish bias. - AP

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