Legislation to collect national data on "hate crimes" by white supremacists and others was introduced Wednesday by Sens. Paul Simon, D-Ill., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
"Hate crimes are among the most heinous of all crimes because they strike so deeply at their victims' individuality and self-esteem," Hatch said. "While the FBI collects certain national crime statistics, there is no federal record-keeping concerning the occurrence of hate crimes."The bill would require the attorney general to collect data for the next five years about crimes that show evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity.
"Hate crimes are not committed in one local area, but surface all across America. Yet we have no uniform method of determining if these crimes are on the rise and exactly where they are taking place. This bill is aimed at rectifying that information gap," Hatch said.
"Through this data, law enforcement agencies can better address and seek to prevent these crimes."
Hatch also said that hate crimes have touched virtually every ethnic and many religious minorities in the nation in recent years. Some instances he mentioned:
- In Salt Lake City in 1980, a former member of the American Nazi Party murdered two black men jogging with two white women in Liberty Park in a sniper attack. The same man was later convicted of the 1977 bombing of a synagogue in Chattanooga, Tenn.
-In 1987 in Howard Beach, N.Y., a black teenager was killed by a car while being chased by whites.
-In July 1987 in San Jose, Calif., a black woman was denied access to a public park by white supremacists who also terrorized her with racial threats.
-During the winter 1982-83 in North Carolina, the White Knights of Liberty conducted nighttime cross burnings in front of interracial couples.
-In February 1982 in Cleveland, a member of the Social Nationalist Aryan People's Party murdered two blacks and a white person he mistakenly thought was a "Jewish professor."
-In 1981 in Mobile, Ala., members of the United Klans of America murdered a black teenager.
-A Chinese-American was beaten to death with a baseball bat in Detroit by two whites upset about the effect of Japanese car imports on American jobs.
-Last September in New York, two teenagers desecrated a synagogue, painting swastikas on the walls, burning the building and destroying six Torah scrolls.
-Last year in Doraville, Ga., the Yeshiva High School was spray painted with anti-Semitic and racist slogans.
-In the mid 1980s in Cedartown, Ga., Hispanics were shot at and had their cars rammed by members of white supremacist groups.
Hatch also said that according to the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, 1988 anti-Semitic incidents included 823 episodes of vandalism and desecration and 658 acts of harassment, threat or assault - the highest number of incidents reported in five years.