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Escambia County Hate Crimes

The number of hate crimes in Florida has gone up, this according to a hate crimes report released today. These crimes all happened in 2012. Nine of those crimes were in our area.  The Escambia County Sheriff's Office investigated one battery related to race, the Okaloosa Sheriff's Office investigated one race-related assault., Pensacola Police reported four aggravated assaults - three over race and one over sexual orientation, and University of West Florida campus police reported three graffiti incidents - two race related, one over sexual orientation.

    Out of those eight hate crimes, three were here at the University of West Florida.
    In one case, someone wrote racial slurs on a bulletin board.
    It was back in April of 2012. Racial and anti-gay slurs were written next to some of Argo Hall's resident assistant pictures.
    That incident happened after two nooses were found on campus, one hanging in a tree near the Martin Hall Dorms, the other above a directory sign next to the tennis courts.
    Those incidents were not classified as hate crimes, according to UWF.
    But the events prompted student leaders to hold a conference on discrimination.

"I think we should definitely talk about it more and put it out there because it's still happening," said one student.

    In 2011, Florida reported a total of 139 hate crimes. This latest report has that number up at 170.
    The increase has caught the attention of the NAACP and other groups across Florida.

"Things are starting to head back to where they were in the past because of a lack of leadership and a lack of a call of unity," said Dale Landry with the NAACP.

    These numbers are the highest since 2008. The majority of the crimes reported were against racial minorities, with the LGBT community being the number two target.

"I would say raise our kids better. As far as values of life and what's important," said Vanessa Craddick.

"I think it's very disappointing. Especially hate crimes, it's  such a sad thing," said Larry Kendricks.

    Escambia County only accounted for 5 percent of the total number of hate crimes in Florida.
    Orange county has the highest., with 32 reported hate crimes.