D.C. hate crimes target LGBT groups

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Local,DC,Maryland,Virginia,Crime,Emily Babay

The number of hate crimes jumped 68 percent in the District last year, with incidents based on the victims' sexual orientation making up nearly two-thirds of reported incidents, according to FBI data released Monday.

Thirty-five of the 57 incidents reported in D.C. in 2010 were motivated by sexual orientation, the FBI statistics say. In 2009, 30 of 34 incidents were based on sexual orientation.

D.C. also saw increases in other types of hate crimes. Incidents motivated by race spiked from two in 2009 to 14 last year.

Hate crimes
Motivated by:RaceReligionSexual orientationEthnicity
D.C.
2009:20302
2010:144354
Montgomery
2009:3913
2010:4811
Prince George's
2009:5200
2010:1020
Alexandria
2009:3100
2010:2110
Arlington
2009:0200
2010:2302
Fairfax
2009:2000
2010:10325
Loudoun
2009:3010
2010:1100

It's hard to tell whether those numbers are the result of more crimes being committed, more victims reporting the offenses or law enforcement doing a better job documenting them, said David Friedman, the D.C. regional director for the Anti-Defamation League.

But the number of attacks targeting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups "has to increase our concerns about the vulnerability of this community," Friedman said.

The prevalence of sexual-orientation-based crimes in D.C. is unusual. Just 19 percent of hate crimes nationwide in 2010 were based on sexual orientation.

The District's LGBT community has encouraged its members to report bias-motivated crimes, and officers have become better at recording the incidents as hate crimes, said Rick Rosendall, vice president of political affairs for the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance. Rosendall said better data-gathering likely contributed to some of the increase.

"I think we have a ways to go, but we are doing better at trying to document this," D.C. police union chief Kris Baumann said.

The numbers bump reflects a spate of shootings and other assaults against transgender people between July and August, which resulted in at least two deaths.

Racially motivated crimes have also risen this year. Through the end of October, 22 racially based offenses had already been reported, according to D.C. police statistics.

Police Chief Cathy Lanier said this summer that offenses against Hispanics and whites were on the rise.

In Montgomery County, which saw several reports of vandalism at schools and synagogues, most hate crimes were religion-based, according to FBI statistics.

In Fairfax, the majority were race-based. Those incidents largely consisted of spray-painting on houses, police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell said.

ebabay@washingtonexaminer.com

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Emily Babay

Digital News Editor
The Washington Examiner