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FBI reports over 7400 hate crimes in 2003

[JURIST] The FBI announced Monday that over 7400 hate crime incidents were reported in 2003. The total, which includes 14 murders, is mostly made up of intimidation, vandalism, and property destruction. The nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center indicates these incidents range from spray-painting of swastikas and racial slurs on people's property to menacing with guns and verbal threats. The report shows anti-Islamic crimes remained at a similar level to 2002. Several civil rights groups say the figures show the need for stronger federal laws against hate crimes. The House and Senate had passed competing bills which would have created these laws but failed to reconcile the versions this year. Rights groups are also calling for help from the Justice Department to assist local law enforcement agencies in prosecuting the crimes. Read the FBI press release summarizing the report here. Read the full report here [PDF]. AP has more.

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