S.F. hate crimes top state

The number of hate crimes reported in San Francisco has gone down for the third straight year, but people in The City still report more hate-fueled occurrences per capita than anywhere else in the state.

According to FBI numbers released Monday, San Francisco has seen a 32 percent drop in the number of hate crimes reported between 2004 and the end of 2006.

The San Francisco Police Department’s numbers back up that trend, although they are actually higher than what the FBI reports because a few categories — crimes against women, for example — aren’t

tabulated on the national level.

San Francisco police define a hate crime as one that targets an individual because of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or national origin.

The FBI reported a total of 94 hate crimes in San Francisco last year, with nearly half of those related to sexual orientation. There were 103 reported two years ago and 138 reported in 2004.

Christopher Waldrep, a San Francisco State University history professor and expert on hate crimes, said the drop doesn’t necessarily mean more or less hate crimes are taking place.

“The problem with those kind of numbers is that they are going to go up when people are more sensitive to the issue, and they’re going to go down when people are less sensitive,” he said.

Waldrep said the Bay Area is a place where people feel more comfortable about their identity and are more likely to report crimes against a particular community.

“I seriously doubt there are actually more hate crimes occurring here than in other places,” he added.

David Schneider, assistant director of the Anti-Defamation League for thePacific Northwest, agreed, adding that the District Attorney’s Office and police department have their own units dedicated to fighting this specific issue.

Nationwide, California reported almost 1,300 hate crimes compared with 245 in the state of Texas.

“Just because there are more hate crimes that are reported doesn’t mean that we are a more hateful place,” Schneider said.

bbegin@examiner.com

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