The number of
reported hate crimes in Florida jumped by 21.5% between
2003 and 2004, the Miami Herald reported
Thursday. Race was the number 1 motivation for attacks,
accounting for 60% of reports. Sexual orientation came
in second, accounting for 16% of reports.
Why did the number of reported incidents rise to
334 from 274 when they had been decreasing during the
past two years? The new data doesn't suggest a trend,
but it could be due to "improvements in training that
resulted in better investigative reporting by law
enforcement," John Peck, spokesman for Florida
attorney general Charlie Crist, told the Herald.
Art Teitelbaum, Southern area director for the
Anti-Defamation League, called the new numbers very
disturbing. "Whenever there is a nearly 22% increase
in a category of crime, that is something to pay attention
to," he said.
The Herald's survey of 2003 incidents
shows that many were name-calling, vandalism, and
harassment. But there was an instance of a gay man
being shot in Miami Beach. The Miami-Dade state
attorney's office currently has two open cases of aggravated
battery based on sexual orientation.
Meanwhile, no one can accurately say how many of
the incidents led to arrest or prosecution because no
state agency tracks such data. An informal survey by
the newspaper suggests that number is extremely low.
"The easiest way for hate crimes to continue to flourish is
for no one to pay attention to them," Peck told the