The US government defines a hate crime as, "a criminal act (such as property damage, assault or harassment) motivated by the perpetrator's bias against a person or group of people based on their sexual orientation, race or religion."
While the USA first criminalized these acts in 1964, hate crimes have been occurring since the beginning of time, many being of historical note such as the Roman's persecution of Christians, the Holocaust, and the more recent ethnic cleansing in Bosnia.
According to the FBI, local law enforcement agencies reported 9,168 hate crime offenses in 2008. Of these incidents, the victim's sexual orientation motivated 1,617 cases, their race motivated 4,704 cases and their religion motivated 1,606 cases.
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