Hate crimes rose in Utah for the third straight year in 2011 to 68 with biases against race, religion and sexual orientation the most frequent motivating factors for the crimes, according to new data released Monday by the FBI.
The same motives drove hate crimes across the nation, according to the bureau's annual Hate Crimes Statistics report, which shows police agencies reported 6,222 crimes involving more than 7,200 offenses, including four murders and seven rapes.
Hate crimes are those motivated by biases against race, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity and disability. The data is collected from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
California had the highest number of reported hate crimes with 1,040 and New York was second with 544. Mississippi reported only one hate crime and the Virgin Islands had none, the report shows.
According to the data, racial biases motivated 47 percent of all hate crimes. Bias against sexual orientation triggered 20 percent of hate crimes and religion, 19 percent.
Overall, more than 7,700 individuals were victims of hate crimes, according to the national data. Of those 3,800 were targeted for race; 1,572 for their sexual orientation; and 1,480 for their religion. The data shows blacks, gay men and Jews were targeted more frequently than those of other races, sexual orientation or religion.
The report data also shows that more than 5,700 individuals were perpetrators of hate crimes in 2011. Fifty-nine percent of those were white, 20 percent were black and 7 percent were groups that included various races. About 39 percent of the crimes were simple assaults; 37 percent were intimidation; and 24 percent were aggravated assaults, the FBI data shows.
With a population of just 2.7 million, it's no surprise that Utah had a smaller number of hate crimes than many other states.
Still, the numbers have risen consistently in recent years, from 40 in 2008, to 48 in 2009 and 63 in 2010. It's not clear why the numbers have increased, although the number of agencies providing data statewide has also increased.
Utah's data shows 29 of the 68 hates crimes reported in 2011 were motivated by racial bias. Another 16 were motivated by religious biases, 14 by sexual orientation and eight by ethnicity. Only one reported crime was disability-related.
Among Utah police agencies, the Salt Lake County-based Unified Police Department reported the most hate crimes, with 12, including four each for racial- and religiously-motivated reasons, the FBI data shows.
West Valley City was second with six reported hate crimes. Draper was third with five reported incidents. Bountiful had four reported hate crimes. The FBI data indicates that three of those were motivated by religious bias.
Public information officers for both the Unified Police Department and West Valley City's police department on Monday said they could not comment on the FBI's report as they were not familiar with the specifics of the case data that was provided to the bureau.