Equality groups skeptical over lack of reported Alabama hate cri - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Equality groups skeptical over lack of reported Alabama hate crimes

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

The hate crimes stats show more than 6,700 offenses were reported in the U.S. last year. Almost half of the incidents were motivated by race. California, Michigan and New York had the most incidents; Alabama had none.

"Of course, we find that hard to believe," said Michael Hansen with Equality Alabama.

Equality Alabama is an advocacy group for the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender community. Hansen believes there have been hate crimes against people based on sexual orientation, but it is under reported.

"For a number of reasons. People may not want to say I was attacked because I was something. Other reasons might include being embarrassed or ashamed," said Hansen.

Paul Daymond with the F.B.I. does believe people in the L.G.B.T. community have a fear of reporting crimes against them. Daymond says the F.B.I. is working with law enforcement agencies to help with those kind of investigations.

"One of the things we try to do in the F.B.I. is educate police departments to be able to identify or at least look for those indications of what may be a hate crime," said Daymond.

Equality Alabama hopes a change in state law to include sexual orientation as a hate crime will give victims more courage to come forward.

"It's very important not just what it does for penalties and stuff like that, it's important to send a message it's not okay to pick on someone, to assault them or whatever because of their sexual orientation," said Hansen.

The law enforcement agencies voluntarily reported their numbers, but only 8 participated in Alabama. Again, those 8 all reported no hate crimes last year. The Birmingham Police Department didn't participate, but also had none reported last year.

Copyright 2013 WBRC.  All rights reserved.

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