The Justice Department probing into a hate crimes is not new. Its agents have investigated and tracked crimes triggered by "prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity" since 1990.
In 2013, the most recent year for which data is available, the FBI identified 3,563 victims of racially motivated hate crimes across the U.S. That's up from 2012, when the FBI identified 3,467 victims of crimes where race was a key factor, according to the FBI.
In 2013, black victims made up 66 percent of the total racially motivated hate crimes while 21 percent were victims of an anti-white bias, records show. In addition, 4.6 percent were victims of anti-Asian bias and 4.5 percent were victims of anti-Native American bias, records show.
Most of these hate crimes were not fatal.
While the majority of hate crimes deal with race, that is not the only factor the FBI uses in tracking hate crimes. Religion, gender identity and sexual orientation are also categories.
Here's a breakdown of all 5,922 hate crimes identified by the FBI in 2013:
- Racial: 48.5%
- Sexual orientation: 20.8%
- Religious: 17.4%
- Ethnicity: 11.1%
- Disability: 1.4%
- Gender Identity: 0.5%
- Gender: 0.3%
Of those of all hate crimes tracked by the FBI, 3.5 percent occurred in churches, synagogues, temples or mosques.
Check out the FBI hate crime statistics here.
While the number of hate crimes recorded by the FBI fluctuates from year to year, the number of hate crime victims nationally has dropped over the past 10 years, FBI statistics show. In 2003, there were 9,100 victims, according to the FBI.
Recent successes in prosecuting hate crimes identified by the FBI include:
- In November 2014, a Springtown,Texas man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for luring a young gay man to his home and brutally assaulting him because of his sexual orientation.
- In September 2014, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan pleaded guilty for his role in a cross burning in front of an interracial family's home in Tennessee.
- Also in September 2014, a Utah man pleaded guilty to interfering with the housing rights of three members of an interracial family by threatening to kill them if they did not make their African-American family member leave their home.
- In July 2014, four individuals were indicted for their alleged roles in a racially motivated crime spree targeting African-Americans in Jackson, Mississippi.
- In April 2014, a man was indicted on federal hate crime charges for making anti-Semitic threats against a Jewish businesswoman who owned an Albuquerque restaurant.
Hate crimes also take place close to home, FBI records show.
In Texas in 2013 -- the most recent numbers available --there were 132 hate crimes, according to the FBI.
- Race: 54
- Sexual orientation: 44
- Ethnicity: 25
- Religion: 7
- Disability: 2
In the city of Houston and in Harris County, there were 16 incidents designated as hate crimes in 2013, according to the FBI.
The most prominent hate crime case that year surrounded the arrest of Conrad Barrnett.
Barrett, who is white, was charged with a federal hate crime for allegedly assaulting a 79-year-old African-American man in a knockout game-style attack, prosecutors said. Barrett, from Katy, recorded himself on his cell phone attacking the man and showed the video to others, officials said.
He has argued he suffers from psychological problems and his case is ongoing.
But this most recent year was far from having the most crimes in Texas. In Texas in 2013, there were 132 hate crimes, according to the FBI. Turn the calendar back to 2010 and the FBI chalked up 174 hate crimes in Texas.
Not all hate crimes that are reported initially as hate crimes remain in that category after police investigate. Earlier this year, a fire was set at a southeast Houston mosque, and many initially wondered if this was a hate crime attack. Police said it turned out to be a homeless man who said it was an accident. He was charged with first-degree arson.
If you know of a hate crime, police want to know. The Houston police hate crime hotline is 713-308-8737.