Bil Browning

FBI: LGBT hate crimes increase but Indy doesn't report any

Filed By Bil Browning | November 23, 2009 7:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: FBI investigation, hate crimes against LGBT people, Indianapolis, Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act

The FBI has released their detailed report on hate crimes in America for 2008. Crimes against LGBT people increased by 11% nationwide.

hate_crimes.jpgIndiana is one of a handful of states without a statewide hate crimes law. Instead, we have a hate crimes reporting law that requires law enforcement agencies to report all hate crimes to the FBI. Enforcement has never been a priority and agencies often claimed that they weren't sure what they should be reporting since we don't have our own law regarding hate crimes.

61 hate crimes were reported in Indiana for 2008; almost 20% of Indiana's hate crimes were based on sexual orientation. Only 17 law enforcement agencies in Indiana filed an incident report with the FBI. Indianapolis, in blatant violation of state law, didn't report anything. Indianapolis has not reported a hate crime of any kind (race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or disability) since 2005.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard's administration has pledged to reinstate hate crime reporting, but the harm is already done. The low numbers of hate crimes reported was always used as part of the justification for not passing a hate crime law.

Maybe Indiana's legislature can get it together long enough to pass a hate crimes law soon. The legislation's lead opponent, State Representative "Wacky Jackie" Walorski, recently announced she will be running for Congress against incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly. Congressman Donnelly voted against the federal hate crimes law. Ah, Indiana.

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Thank you, Bil, for posting on this issue --- and please continue to do so! Let's keep this topic alive until we can at least get our public officials to follow a law that is already on the books!

Although working here in Indianapolis is totally appropriate, we should also be addressing this issue at the state-wide level. When law enforcement agencies all across the state ignore a law on the books, that should be a problem for the Governor --- or, if he doesn't notice it as a problem, then we have to make sure he notices it!

By the way, since there is no hate crimes law in Indiana, the acts of social hate that we are trying to tally are "bias incidents" --- depending on severity, some are "crimes" under existing law, and some may not be. But if we are going to become the self-appointed experts in this area, then we might as well get on the same page regarding the jargon we use.