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Hate crimes disproportionately impact African Americans in Pittsburgh |

Hate crimes disproportionately impact African Americans in Pittsburgh

Megan Guza
| Tuesday, December 18, 2018 5:33 p.m
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Marchers head down Forbes to protest the visit of President Donald Trump to the Tree of Life Synagogue, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018, after 11 people were shot and killed during religious services, Sunday.

Nearly three-quarters of all hate crimes committed across Pittsburgh in the last decade targeted minorities, according to data released Tuesday by police.

The city has averaged about 19 hate crimes each year, according to the data, and were been 16 in 2018 between Jan. 1 and Oct. 28. There have been 208 reported hate crimes since Jan. 1, 2008. On average, half of all incidents are violent crimes.

The FBI defines hate crimes as those motivated by race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity. Pennsylvania law does not include sexual orientation, but Pittsburgh police do track such incidents. State law classifies hate crimes under the charge “ethnic intimidation.”

“It is our hope that by continually sharing data with the public, we can draw more attention to the problem and work with the community to ensure violations are reported and investigated,” said Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert.

The decade’s worth of statistics showed that 76 percent of all hate crimes were based on race. Of those, 71 percent were directed toward black people, the data show. A quarter were directed toward white people, and 4 percent directed toward races classified only as “other.”

“Racial animus is the most common contributor to Ethnic Intimidation charges, with the vast majority of those targeting African Americans,” the report concluded.

Further, 9 percent of hate crimes in the past decade involved ethnicity; 8 percent targeted religion; 6 percent involved sexual orientation; and 1 percent involved disability, according to the report.

“Any type of bias or hate crime is unacceptable,” Schubert said. “No one should ever have to live in a state of fear because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability.”

Arrest rates over the past decade have averaged 40 percent. For violent hate crimes, it is about 60 percent, officials said. Data show the crimes are distributed “fairly evenly” among the city’s six police zones.

Officials also discussed what improvements can be made to cut down the number of hate crimes in the city, most of which hinge on awareness. They include the need for more residents to report such crimes: “If residents see an incident, report the incident,” officials wrote.

Further, the report said, both the public and law enforcement need better education on recognizing hate crimes.

“It is important for our residents to report potential crimes involving ethnic intimidation,” said Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich. “Police will do everything possible to ensure those reporting incidents will be safe and protected.”

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.

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