Hate crimes spiked nearly 8 percent in the past year, according to new FBI statistics released today. In 2006 there were 7,722 criminal incidents that, in the words of the Associated Press, “targeted victims or property as a result of bias against a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic or national origin or physical or mental disability.” That figure was up from 7,163 incidents in 2005.
Some of the most heavily reported incidents of late, of course, have been noose hangings–specifically, the rash of them that spread across the US this past fall in the wake of the Jena Six protest. Just this past Friday Al Sharpton led thousands in a civil rights march on Washington demanding that the Justice Department prosecute such crimes when they occur. The Justice Department, in turn, says that it is investigating many incidents, including several school noose hangings.
Why, then, I wonder, wasn’t the incident in Jena included in the FBI’s report, and why has the Justice Department declined to investigate the matter?