Hate crimes are bias-motivated crimes carried out by groups, often organized social groups, comprising otherwise law-abiding people who see little wrong with their actions. The acts are mostly carried out because of personal prejudice, a situation that colors people's judgment, blinding the aggressors to the immorality of what they are doing.
Why should I be aware of this?
Hate crimes are message crimes. They are different from other crimes in that the offender is sending a message to members of a certain group that they are unwelcome. Identifying individuals planning hate crimes is a formidable task. One common trait is membership in a hate organization. The majority—and perhaps most recognizable—are fringe neo-Nazi or Ku Klux Klan groups.
All about hate crime
Historically it has been seen that hate motivated violence has been a definite feature of societies around. Since the beginning of recorded time, a line of atrocities have been committed on the grounds of racial or religious prejudices. During the past eight decades, hatred has reached such proportions in Turkey, Germany, Indonesia, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and elsewhere that it has almost become genocidal. Violence based on hatred has happened so much that it might be considered as an inborn characteristic of our species.
Motivated by bias
Hate crimes are not separate, distinct crimes; instead, they are traditional offenses motivated by the offender’s bias.
According to a US Federal Bureau of Investigation report, in hate crime program, bias-motivated offenses can be directed at persons, property, or society. During 2004, US law enforcement agencies identified 9,035 offenses within the reported 7,649 incidents. Of these offenses, 62.4 percent were directed against persons, 36.9 percent against property, and the remainder (0.7 percent) against society.
Types of assault
Approximately one-half of all bias-motivated offenses against persons involved the crime of intimidation (50.1 percent). Nearly all of the other offenses directed at persons involved assaults: simple assaults made up 31.0 percent and aggravated assaults accounted for 18.4 percent of the offenses.
The majority of hate motivated offenses directed against property (84.4 percent) involved destruction, damage, or vandalism.
An analysis of the total reported offenses showed that intimidation accounted for 31.3 percent of the 9,035 offenses; destruction/damage/vandalism, 31.1 percent; simple assault, 19.4 percent; and aggravated assault, 11.5 percent of the total offenses. 
Hate crimes directed against a person's religion decreased in 2007, but hate crimes against gays and lesbians increased slightly, according to the FBI's 2007 Hate Crimes Statistics.
FBI Hate crime statistics - 2007
- Of the 7,621 single-bias incidents, 50.8 percent were motivated by a racial bias, 18.4 percent were motivated by a religious bias, 16.6 percent were motivated by a sexual orientation bias, and 13.2 percent were motivated by an ethnicity/national origin bias. One percent involved a bias against a disability.
- There were 5,408 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against persons in 2007. Intimidation accounted for 47.4 percent of crimes against persons, simple assaults for 31.1 percent, and aggravated assaults for 20.6 percent. Nine murders were reported as hate crimes.
- There were 3,579 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against property; most of these (81.4 percent) were acts of destruction/damage/vandalism. The remaining 18.6 percent of crimes against property consisted of robbery, burglary, larceny theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, and other offenses.
- Of the 6,965 known offenders, 62.9 percent were white and 20.8 percent were black. The race was unknown for 9.8 percent, and other races accounted for the remaining known offenders.
- The largest percentage (30.5 percent) of hate crime incidents occurred in or near homes. Also, 18.9 percent took place on highways, roads, alleys, or streets; 11.3 percent happened at schools or colleges; 6.0 percent in parking lots or garages; and 4.1 percent in churches, synagogues, or temples. The remaining 29.3 percent of hate crime incidents took place at other specified locations, multiple locations, or other/unknown locations.