Reported hate crimes down slightly in US in 2018: FBI

©Agence France-Presse

Stars of David on a fence at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on the first anniversary of an attack which left 11 people dead and several others wounded

Washington (AFP) - Hate crimes reported to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation fell slightly in 2018 from the previous year, according to an annual report released by the FBI on Tuesday.

A total of 7,120 hate crimes were reported to the FBI by law enforcement agencies around the country last year, down from 7,175 in 2017, the FBI said.

It said 59.6 percent of the reported hate crimes were motivated by race, ethnicity, or ancestry bias.

Religious bias accounted for 18.7 percent, sexual orientation 16.7 percent, gender identity 2.2 percent, disability 2.1 percent, and gender 0.7 percent.

The FBI said 5,566 hate crimes were classified as crimes against persons while 2,641 were considered crimes against property such as vandalism or theft.

Of the crimes against persons, 46 percent involved intimidation, 34 percent were for simple assault and 18.4 percent were for aggravated assault.

There were 24 murders and 22 rapes reported as hate crimes. The 24 murders included 11 worshipers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who were slain by an anti-Semitic gunman in October of last year.

The FBI said the hate crimes involved 6,266 "known offenders," of which 53.6 were white and 24 percent African-American.

African-Americans were the leading target of crimes based on race, comprising 47.1 percent of the 5,155 victims of hate crimes based on race, ethnicity or ancestry, the FBI said.

Jews were the most-targeted group by religion comprising 56.9 percent of the victims of anti-religious hate crimes, it said.

The FBI did not provide any explanation for the slight decrease in reported hate crimes last year.

The law enforcement agency defines hate crimes as criminal offense motivated by bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.