Hate crimes disproportionately impact African Americans in Pittsburgh
Nearly three-quarters of all hate crimes committed across Pittsburgh since 2008 targeted minorities, according to data released Tuesday by police.
There have been a total of 208 reported hate crimes since Jan. 1, 2008, an average of about 19 a year, the data showed. That included 16 between Jan. 1 and Oct. 28 of this year.
On average, half of the 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 data showed that 76 percent of all hate crimes were based on race. Of those, 71 percent were directed toward black people, according to the data. 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, the report said 9 percent of hate crimes involved ethnicity; 8 percent targeted religion; 6 percent involved sexual orientation; and 1 percent involved disability.
“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,” Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said. “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, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.