Source AP ©

Hate crimes in U.S. increase by nearly 8 percent

The FBI said hate crime incidents increased by nearly 8 percent in the U.S. Racial prejudice accounts for more than half the reported instances.

Police across the nation reported 7,722 criminal incidents in 2006 targeting victims or property as a result of prejudice against a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic or national origin or physical or mental disability. That was up 7.8 percent from the 7,163 incidents reported in 2005.

The report did not contain highly publicized incidents in late 2006 at Jena, a small town in Louisiana, that involved hanging nooses reminiscent of those used in the lynching of black people in an earlier time and beatings of white students by black youngsters in retaliation. Only 12,600 of the nation's more than 17,000 local, county, state and federal police agencies participated in the hate crime reporting program in 2006, and neither Jena nor LaSalle Parish, the county where the town is, were among the agencies reporting.

Nevertheless, the Jena incidents and a rash of subsequent noose incidents around the country have spawned civil rights protests in Louisiana and last week at Justice Department headquarters in Washington. The department said it investigated the incident but decided not to prosecute because the federal government does not typically bring hate crime charges against juveniles.

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