Sustained Outrage

Beer-sale comments at WVU released

West Virginia University on Monday released the 326 comments it has received concerning a proposed policy change that would allow beer sales at football games and other athletic events.

Many people who commented are adamantly opposed to alcohol consumption at Milan Puskar Stadium at Mountaineer Field. Ed Dicken simply wrote “NO!” in large type. His was among one of the first comments that WVU received between April 8 and May 13.

“Enough money is being made off football games without throwing alcohol into the equation,” wrote Mike Snyder of Harman.

Other fans say it would further a negative image of WVU as a “party school” and make Mountaineer Field even less family-friendly.

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FBI: Hate crimes down in West Virginia

Late last month, the FBI released hate crime statistics for 2009. Happily, hate crimes in West Virginia are way down from last year, from 43 total in 2008 to 24 in 2009.

Broken down by type of offense, 18 were motivated by race, three by sexual orientation, one by religion, one by ethnicity and one by disability.

The FBI breaks down its numbers by jurisdiction, so here’s a list of places where hate crimes occurred: Buckhannon, Clarksburg, Fairmont, Huntington, Martinsburg, Morgantown, Moundsville, South Charleston, Weirton (which had four total) and Wheeling (at the city level) and Berkeley, Jefferson, Kanawha, Monongalia, Summers and Upshur Counties.

Interestingly, Marshall University was the site of two hate crimes in 2009, both racial incidents.

Here are the FBI’s bullet points, which indicate that hate crimes were down nationwide in 2009:

  • Of the 6,598 single-bias incidents, 48.5 percent were motivated by a racial bias, 19.7 percent were motivated by a religious bias, 18.5 percent were motivated by a sexual-orientation bias, and 11.8 percent were motivated by an ethnicity/national origin bias. Bias against a disability accounted for 1.5 percent of single-bias incidents.
  • There were 4,793 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against persons in 2009. Intimidation accounted for 45.0 percent of crimes against persons, simple assaults for 35.3 percent, and aggravated assaults for 19.1 percent. Other offenses, including nine forcible rapes and eight murders, accounted for the remainder.
  • There were 2,970 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against property; most of these (83.0 percent) were acts of destruction/damage/vandalism. The remaining 17.0 percent of crimes against property consisted of robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, and other offenses.
  • An analysis of data for single-bias hate crime incident victims revealed that 48.8 percent were targeted because of the offender’s bias against a race, 18.9 percent because of a bias against a religious belief, 17.8 percent because of a sexual orientation bias, 13.3 percent because of an ethnicity/national origin bias, and 1.2 percent because of a disability bias.
  • Of the 6,225 known offenders, 62.4 percent were white, 18.5 percent were black, 7.3 percent were groups made up of individuals of various races (multiple races, group), 1.0 percent were American Indian/Alaskan Native, and 0.7 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander. The race was unknown for the remaining known offenders.
  • The largest percentage (31.3 percent) of hate crime incidents occurred in or near homes. In addition, 17.2 percent took place on highways, roads, alleys, or streets; 11.4 percent happened at schools or colleges; 6.1 percent in parking lots or garages; and 4.3 percent in churches, synagogues, or temples. The remaining 29.7 percent of hate crime incidents took place at other specified locations, multiple locations, or other/unknown locations.


STOP Violence Against Women grants announced

On Friday, Gov. Joe Manchin announced the distribution of federal funds from the Office on Violence Against Women, a part of the U.S. Department of Justice. All told, 24 projects in West Virginia received almost $1 million in grant money. The grants are part of the STOP (Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors) Program, initiated under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and renewed in the Violence Against Women Act of 2000 and Violence Against Women Act of 2005.

“The purpose of these funds is to establish or enhance teams whose core members include victim service providers, law enforcement, and prosecution to improve the criminal justice system’s response to violence against women,” the governor’s news release states. “Grants provide personnel, equipment, enhancement of those teams. Additionally, statewide projects are funded to provide training and educational opportunities for all victim service providers, law enforcement, prosecution, and court personnel across the state.”

The funds are administered locally by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. A complete list of the agencies and the amounts awarded is after the jump.

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FBI releases 2008 hate crime statistics

On Monday, the FBI published its summary of hate crimes in America in 2008.

These are the FBI’s bullet points:

An analysis of the 7,780 single-bias incidents revealed that 51.3 percent were motivated by a racial bias, 19.5 percent were motivated by a religious bias, 16.7 percent were motivated by a sexual orientation bias, and 11.5 percent were motivated by an ethnicity/national origin bias. One percent involved a bias against a disability.

There were 5,542 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against persons in 2008. Intimidation accounted for 48.8 percent of crimes against persons, simple assaults for 32.1 percent, and aggravated assaults for 18.5 percent. Seven murders were reported as hate crimes.

There were 3,608 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against property; the majority (82.3 percent) were acts of destruction/damage/vandalism. The remaining 17.7 percent of crimes against property consisted of robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, and other offenses.

Of the 6,927 known offenders, 61.1 percent were white and 20.2 percent were black. The race was unknown for 11.0 percent, and other races accounted for the remaining known offenders

The largest percentage (31.9 percent) of hate crime incidents occurred in or near homes; followed by 17.4 percent on highways, roads, alleys, or streets; 11.7 percent at schools or colleges; 6.1 percent in parking lots or garages; and 4.2 percent in churches, synagogues, or temples. The remaining 28.8 percent of hate crime incidents took place at other specified locations, multiple locations, or other/unknown locations.

In West Virginia, 23 agencies reported 43 hate crimes. Interestingly, the FBI also listed different jurisdictions (cities, counties, etc.) that reported zero hate crimes during 2008. Happily, after the headline-grabbing accounts of what happened to Megan Williams in Big Creek in 2007 (and all the subsequent commotion), Logan County reported no hate crimes in 2008.

The same is not true of some of West Virginia’s most populated counties, including Kanawha and Monongalia (although Morgantown had none).

New Census data: One in six West Virginians living in poverty

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More than 300,000 West Virginians lived in poverty in 2008, according to new data from the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau yesterday.

That translates into 17.4 percent of all residents (or slightly more than one in six).

For children, the numbers are even worse: 90,000 (23.9 percent) under the age of 18, and 32,000 (31.1 percent) of children under the age of five lived in poverty. (I’ve rounded the estimates but not the percentages.)

Worse still, all of those numbers are creeping up from 2007, after a slight improvement from 2006.

Nationally, only Louisiana (17.6) and Mississippi (20.8) had higher percentages of their population living below the poverty line. And at $37,528, West Virginia had the lowest median household income in the United States.

The data can also be broken down by county and school district. Staggeringly, an estimated 46.3 percent of people under the age of 18 in McDowell County lived in poverty. This is almost two times higher than Kanawha County (23.5), three times higher than Monongalia County (15.2) and four times Jefferson County (11.1, the lowest percentage of all 55 counties).