D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier says hate crimes targeting whites and Latinos are on the rise. This statistic comes from a report showing that hate crimes in general increased by almost 70 percent last year.
In 2009, D.C. reported a total of two bias crimes based on a victim's race. During the first six months of this year, there were 15.
Lanier says most of the victims were whites and Latinos -- a result, she says, of the city's rapidly changing demographics and landscape.
"The changes in the city: the gentrification, new residents versus old residents, development areas, you've got a lot of development and a lot of people in these development areas and you've got people who commit crimes take advantage of those areas," says Lanier.
Lanier says it's sometimes difficult to tell what is or isn't a hate crime.
"A slur is made during the course of an assault, but was the assault motivated by their hatred toward you, because of the way you look, or your sexual orientation?" says Lanier. "It's very difficult sometimes, but we do the best we can.”
Hate crimes based on sexual orientation remain a concern for police and advocates in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Jerry Hughes, a transgender woman, gave emotional testimony to the council about the murders of eight transgender women of color.
"For this reason, they were hated. For this reason they were murdered," she said. "Many of their cases remain unresolved, the killers remain free. This isn't justice," says Hughes.
The number of reported hate crimes overall continues to increase in D.C., but authorities say it's impossible to know if it's because of better reporting or increased violence.
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