The first in a series of facts about Hate Crimes comes a general overview of what a crime is, how it’s defined by law, and statistics according to the FBI and DOJ.

1. Most Hate Crimes Today Have Something To Do With The Victim’s Races

7,106 single-bias incidents involved 8,493 victims in 2017 alone. 

2. Hate Crimes Are Usually Targeted At People That Are African American, Chinese, And Mexican

Typical hate crimes in the US included lynchings of African Americans, Mexicans, and Chinese. Examples of other hate crimes that are committed include assaults on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the painting of swastikas on Jewish synagogues; and xenophobic responses to a variety of minority ethnic groups.

3. ‘Lynch’ Is Attributed To The Actions Of Charles Lynch

Originally, the term referred to extrajudicial organized, but unauthorized, punishment of criminals, though later evolved to describe execution outside “ordinary justice.”

4. FBI Say That Hate Is Not A Crime Itself

According to the FBI, hate crimes are defined as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” “The term “hate” can be misleading. When used in a hate crime, by law, the word “hate” does not mean rage or anger or general dislike. It means bias against persons with specific characteristics that are defined by the relevant law,” FBI said on So you can dislike somebody, or rally against something, but when you go to the point of hurting them, or destroying their property or even offensively writing graffiti against them, (though graffiti is illegal in most places anyway) that is when it becomes a hate crime.

5. After Race, Religion Is The Next Biggest Hate Crime

Another hate crime that is common is against religion. People often fight over religion, but when it goes far enough that you open fire in a sacred place, the argument has gone too far.

6. The Term “Hate Crimes” Became Common In The 1980s

Hate crimes were (and still are) committed by governments and individuals alike, long before the term was used. When Europeans began to colonize North America, are the earliest recorded hate crimes in America. The largest example of this is violence done to the Native Americans.

7. There Are Four Types Of Hate Crime Laws

  1. Laws defining specific bias-motivated acts as distinct crimes;
  2. Criminal penalty-enhancement laws;
  3. Laws creating a distinct civil cause of action for hate crimes;
  4. Laws requiring administrative agencies to collect hate crime statistics.

8. Some States Have Their Own Hate Crime Laws And Some Never Even Report Their Crimes At All

We don’t know exactly how much the hate crime rate has changed over the decades because most states have their own hate crime laws. In fact, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Wyoming have no such laws. And on top of that, Hawaii doesn’t report anything at all! Also, half of the victims don’t report to the police due to fear or mistrust of the police.

9. Hate Crimes Often Have Significant Psychological Consequences

These consequences aren’t only for the targeted victim, but it leaves others not directly targeted victimized as well. Four of the major consequences include:

  1. Impact on the individual victim. Psychological and affective disturbances; repercussions on the victim’s identity and self-esteem; both reinforced by a specific hate crime’s degree of violence, which is usually stronger than that of a common crime.
  2. Effect on the targeted group. Generalized terror in the group to which the victim belongs, inspiring feelings of vulnerability among its other members, who could be the next hate crime victims.
  3. Effect on other vulnerable groups. Ominous effects on minority groups or on groups that identify themselves with the targeted group, especially when the referred hate is based on an ideology or a doctrine that preaches simultaneously against several groups.
  4. Effect on the community as a whole. Divisions and factionalism arising in response to hate crimes are particularly damaging to multicultural societies.

10. The FBI Found Four Major Motives For Hate Crimes

The FBI conducted a study and found four major motives for hate crimes.

  1. Thrill-seeking: Perpetrators engage in hate crimes for excitement and drama. There is often no greater purpose behind the crimes, with victims being vulnerable because they have an ethnic, religious, sexual or gender background that differs from their attackers. While the actual animosity present in such a crime can be quite low, thrill-seeking crimes were determined to often be dangerous, with 70% of thrill-seeking hate crimes studied involving physical attacks.
  2. Defensive: Perpetrators engage in hate crimes out of a belief they are protecting their communities. These are often triggered by a certain background event. Perpetrators believe society supports their actions but is too afraid to act and thus they believe they have communal assent in their actions.
  3. Retaliatory: Perpetrators engage in hate crimes out of a desire for revenge. This can be in response to personal slights, other hate crimes or terrorism. The “Avengers” target members of a group whom they believe committed the original crime, even if the victims had nothing to do with it. These kinds of hate crimes are a common occurrence after terrorist attacks.
  4. Mission offenders: Perpetrators Engage in hate crimes out of ideological reasons. They consider themselves to be crusaders, often for a religious or racial cause. They will often write complex explanations for their views and target symbolically important sites while trying to maximize damage. They believe that there is no other way to accomplish their goals, which they consider to be justification for excessive violence against innocents. This kind of hate crime often overlaps with terrorism and was considered by the FBI to be both the rarest and deadliest form of hate crime.

Last Update: June 26, 2019

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