What is a Bias Motivated Incident?

In order to address these questions, an exploratory study was conducted to examine bias motivated incidents in and around the Valparaiso area. Bias motivated incidents are a much more inclusive category than hate crimes. A hate crime, according to the FBI, is “a criminal offense committed against a person or property which is motivated in whole or in part by the offender’s bias against race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin.” The definition of a bias incident used here is “behavior which constitutes an expression of hostility against the person or property of another because of the victim’s race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin.” The key difference between bias incidents and hate crimes is that a hate crime is a criminal offense and a bias incident is an expression of hostility that may or may not reach the level of criminal activity. The purpose of this study is to examine bias motivated incidents in Northwest Indiana, including their frequency, location, type, and severity, and to search for any other trends or patterns in these events. This will be accomplished by examining reports of such incidents in a local newspaper. The study is limited to only the accounts of bias incidents reported in newspapers and does not rely on other sources. As such, it is simply an exploratory study of these issues. Future research will be necessary to create a more complete inventory of these incidents. Hopefully, these results will encourage others to use additional sources to develop a more complete database.