Hate Crime Rate In Cambridge Drops 31 Percent

Minority Groups Dispute Low Figures

Bucking a trend of a dramatic increase in hate crimes in Cambridge recently, the number of such crimes dropped from 13 reported incidents in 1990 to nine in 1991, according figures released this week by police officials.

The number of hate crimes occurring in Cambridge has been rising steadily since 1988 when only four were reported. Six crimes were categorized as hate crimes in 1989 and 13 were reported in 1990.

Minority groups and state officials say these figures reflect an even higher number of hate crimes because many incidents are not reported to the police.

In the gay community, only about 11 to 20 percent of gay and lesbian-oriented hate crimes are reported to the police, according to Robert E. Weinerman, an official at the Fenway Community Center.

Ten reports of anti-gay incidents in Cambridge were reported to the center in 1991, Weinerman says. Four incidents have already been reported this year, he says.


And the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of Boston recorded eight incidents of anti-Semitic crimes in Cambridge in 1990 and 10 in 1991.

Don Gorton, co-chair of Gov. William H. Weld's Hate Crime Task Force, says the number of hater crimescommitted against Asians and Blacks are alsohigher than police figures.

In addition, violence towards Arabs increasedduring the Gulf War, but died down shortly afterthe fighting ended, he says.

Gorton attributes the rise in hate crimes toeconomic frustration.

"Emotions are at the boiling point. People aretense due to the state of the economy," says CityCouncillor Edward N. Cyr, who says he regularlyreceives hate mail.

Gorton adds that the increase in hate crimestargeted at the gay community may be due to therising social prominence and political power ofgays and lesbians.

"It incites a backlash," says Gorton. "Peopleare striking out at us."

"Our community is a lot more diverse," saysGloria Pimentel, a Cambridge police spokesperson."If there is an increase in crime, it is becausethere are more diverse people."

Pimentel also attributes the growing trend inhate crimes over the past few years to a highernumber of complaints reaching the police.

"People are reporting more crimes," Pimentelsaid. "I wish more people would report things asthey happen so that the police can do something."

Pimentel acknowledges that many crimes neverreach the police because victims sometimes do notrealize that a crime has been committed.

"They are intimidated by their assailants anddo not want the public to scrutinize theirpersonal lives," she says.

Hate crimes, which range from name calling tograffiti to assault, are punishable by a maximumof $10,000 and/or ten years in jail, depending onthe case, Pimentel says