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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Religion topped race as motive in 2007 hate crimes

Drop in total reported cases may be due to fear, police say

The number of hateful acts identified by police dropped roughly 20 percent last year, but the county’s hate crimes coordinator said that some immigrant communities are not reporting crimes that would be considered hateful.

Montgomery County Police identified 42 hate crimes and incidents in 2007 with another ‘‘six or seven” acts determined inconclusive, said Dave Baker, hate crimes coordinator for county police.

Though that number is down from the recent average of roughly 55 per year, Baker cautioned against being overly encouraged.

‘‘I don’t think it’s a trend, and I don’t think it’s a significant deviation from the previous three to five years,” he said.

Much of his hesitation is because many more hate crimes are going unreported as some immigrant communities are not reporting crimes to police out of fear of deportation....

Muslims and Sikhs were also targeted last year. On Sept. 11, Gaithersburg resident and Muslim community activist Samira Hussein woke to find her tires slashed, an echo of a similar attack against her years earlier.

On Sept. 15, two elderly Sikh men were attacked in Burtonsville. Four teenagers from Silver Spring were charged, but the attack was ruled inconclusive as a hate crime because there was no direct evidence that the attack was motivated for religious reasons. [Link]

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