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May 23, 2008

Hate crime is up 24% nationally, but not in Columbus


Columbus--Hate crime figures are in for 2007, and they show a marked increase in incidents over 2006 nationally, although a “statistically insignificant” rise for Columbus.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs released its annual report on anti-LGBT hate crime across the nation, noting a 24% increase in reported incidents over the previous year.

The number of victims rose from 1,954 in 2006 to 2,430 in 2007, although even that number is considered low. Anti-violence organizations note a tendency towards under-reporting, both to their agencies and to the police.

“We know that the 2,430 people who called on our organizations in 2007 are only a small fraction of the actual number of LGBT people who experienced bias-motivated violence,” said Avy Skolnik, national programs coordinator of the New York City Anti-Violence Project. “Anecdotally, we constantly hear stories of LGBT people surviving abuse--sometimes multiple attacks per day when that violence comes from a fellow student, a neighbor, a co-worker, a landlord or a boss.”

The largest increases were in Minnesota, with rise of 135 percent, Michigan with a 207 percent increase, and Kansas City, which rose 142 percent.

About 200 incidents a year in Columbus

For Columbus, reported incidents rose to 204 from 199 in 2006. However, that number has hovered around the 200 mark since 1995 for the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization’s coverage area.

The number of young people 18 or under who were attacked almost doubled, with 13 reporting violence in 2007, compared to seven in 2006. LGBT people aged 19 to 29 comprised 31 percent of all victims, with 60 reports.

There was a 33 percent increase in sexual assaults, rising to 16 incidents, and weapons-related incidents rose to 23 from 19 in 2006. Vehicles were listed as the most common weapon for assault, comprising 13 of the attacks, and guns were used in 12.

The number of injuries dropped to 61 from 75 in 2006, but the severity increased, with 49 people needing hospital care in 2007 compared to 40 the year before. Statistically, that means that 80 percent, or four out of five, victims reporting injuries needed medical attention in 2007, compared to only 53 percent, or just over half, in 2006.

The areas in and around bars and cruising areas together accounted for 28 percent of incidents, while violence in the home comprised 21 percent. Reports of anti-gay assault at work made up 19 percent.

There were also increases in anti-transgender and anti-HIV bias incidents.

Attackers were far more likely to know the person they were assaulting. Only 72 of the 279 were strangers to their victims.

The Web Gay People's Chronicle





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