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Hate-Motivated Violence

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Recent Foreign Data Recent Foreign Data

Perhaps the best-known recent examples of hate-motivated attacks in a foreign jurisdiction have been those against immigrants and refugees in Germany, which have raised concerns about the growth of right-wing violence there.<36> But recent incidents

The United States

The FBI, in January 1993, released the first data available from its statistical program on hate crimes compiled under the federal Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990.37 These initial data were acknowledged to be limited. They covered the calendar year 1991 and were supplied by nearly 3,000 law enforcement agencies in 32 states. Hate crime occurrences were recorded by 27 percent of the 2,771 agencies participating; the remainder reported that no such offences came to their attention. A total of 5,558 hate crime incidents involving 5,775 offences were reported in 1991. Intimidation was the most frequently reported hate crime, accounting for one of three offences. Racial bias motivated six out of ten offences reported; religious bias, two out of ten; and ethnic and sexual orientation bias, each one out of ten. Bias against blacks accounted for 36 percent of the total, the highest percentage, followed by antiwhite bias at 19 percent, and anti-Jewish bias at 17 percent.<38>

Reporting of hate crimes is also required by some states. For example, the first full year of reporting hate crimes under the Florida Hate Crimes Reporting Act<39> was 1990. During that year, 259 incidents of racially motivated crime were reported. An analysis of these data revealed the following:

The typical hate crime is racially motivated, is committed by an adult male against another adult male, and is directed against the person. Words are the most frequent indicator of the hate motivation, and assault is most often the underlying offense. Most victims are white, and most offenders are white. When race of victim is matched to race of offender, there are slightly more blacks victimizing whites (53 percent) than whites victimizing blacks (39 percent). Given the proportion of whites to blacks in the population and further given the generally known pattern of racism against blacks, the unexpected finding that blacks victimize whites slightly more often than whites victimize blacks warrants some further investigation. Although there is no firm indication of it among the data at hand, it is possible that there is a racial differential in the way victims take advantage of the new hate crimes statutes. The finding might also be a function of the way the hate crime law is enforced.<40>


In 1985, the Association of Chief of Police Officers (hereinafter referred to as the ACPO) in England and Wales issued a statement of "Guiding Principles Concerning Racial Attacks".<41> Recognizing the need to deal with these racial attacks promptly and efficiently, and to monitor these incidents, the ACPO agreed upon an operational definition of a racially motivated incident as follows:

(a) any incident in which it appears to the reporting or investigating officer that the complaint involves an element of racial motivation; or

(b) any incident which includes an allegation of racial motivation made by any person.

This broad definition recognized the need to include the perception of the victim as regards the attack as an important factor in determining if the incident was racially motivated. This definition is the one adopted by the Home Office, and all police forces in Great Britain now have defined procedures for recording and monitoring racial incidents.

Police statistics indicate an increase in reports of racially motivated attacks in Great Britain. A total of 6,559 incidents were reported to the police in England and Wales in 1990 according to the Home Office, compared with 5,383 incidents in 1988 and 5,055 in 1989. The total for Scotland was 299 in 1988, 376 in 1989, and 636 in 1990.<42> Incidents of racially motivated attacks in 1992 included the crimes of murder and assault.<43>


The Report of the National Inquiry into Racist Violence in Australia examined incidents of racist violence that have occurred recently in that country.<44> The report stated that the Peter Tan case was the most extreme example of alleged racist violence reported to the Inquiry. Peter Tan was a Perth taxi driver who was attacked without provocation by two juveniles, suffered horrific injuries to the head, and died. One of the offenders was charged. The accused told police, "I don't like Chinese, to start with, so I belted shit out of him." The youth, although charged with murder, was convicted instead of manslaughter, and received a sentence of only two years and five months.<45>

The Inquiry, however, noted that no official statistics were kept to identify particular crimes as having a racial element, and that this had caused significant problems in estimating the extent of racist violence and responding to it. The Inquiry recommended that data on racially motivated offences should be collected and analyzed at both a state and federal level; that "uniform national procedures" needed to be developed for the collection of statistics on racist violence, intimidation and harassment; and that the results of such data collection should be analyzed and published annually to provide uniform information on the incidence of racially motivated crime in Australia.<46>


In determining the extent of hate-motivated violence in France, a good starting point is the 1989 Report of the Commission nationale consultative des droits de l'homme on the struggle against racism and xenophobia in France, which is summarized by Robin Oakley in his consultant's report on racist violence and harassment to the Council of Europe. That 1989 report provided a systematic, statistical picture of the extent of racial violence and harassment in France from 1979 to 1989, tabulating officially recorded incidents for those years.<47>

The report distinguished between incidents of "antisemitism" and "racism" (i.e., against immigrants) and also between "actions" and "threats" (menaces). The category "actions" covers personal assault, shooting, arson and damage to property; the category "threats" covers graffiti, leaflets and other written materials and telephone calls. While the pattern of incidents of anti-Semitism was different from that of racism, in that antiSemitic incidents tended to oscillate unevenly over the previous ten years, there had been a resurgence of anti-Semitic activity during 1990, with the desecration of Jewish cemeteries. For the most part, however, this activity consisted of threats rather than actual physical violence.

In contrast, the pattern of recorded incidents of racism showed that there had been a general increase in this form of activity in France since 1982. Since 1982, between 56 and 70 "actions" had been recorded for each year. The level of "threats" was stable in the mid-1980s (around 100) but since 1987 had risen to 135 in 1988 and 237 in 1989. During those three years, six persons were killed and 120 injured as a result of incidents of racism, with around 80 percent of the recorded incidents having been aimed at Maghrebians.<48>

By a 1990 law, the Commission must, on March 21 of each year, present to the government a report on racism that is immediately made public.49 In its 1991 report, the Commission included statistics from the Ministry of the Interior which showed that in 1991 there were 91 racist actions, of which 50 were directed against Jews, 55 against Maghrebians, and 17 against others.<50>

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