Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper: I think a couple things, I mean, you know, the tragic death of Matthew Shepard occurred in Wyoming. Colorado and Wyoming are very similar. We have some of the same, you know, backwards thinking in the kind of rural Western areas you see in, you know, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico.
In light of FBI statistics, the mayor might have done better to look in his own backyard: hate crimes occur at a slightly higher rate in his city of Denver than they do in in the state of Colorado as a whole. Notably, the Denver rate of reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation appears to be more than double the rest of the state.
There are a number of caveats to that conclusion that I’ll discuss below. And the FBI itself provides this warning:
The data user is, therefore, cautioned against comparing statistical data of individual reporting units from cities, counties, metropolitan areas, states, or colleges or universities solely on the basis of the statistics provided. Until data users examine all the variables that influence crime in a town, city, county, state, region, or college or university, they can make no meaningful comparisons.
If only Mayor Hickenlooper had heeded that advice. [...]
These data hardly support the jibe that the kind of “backwards thinking” which leads to violent crimes being perpetrated against sexual minorities is primarily a problem of “rural Western areas.” [emphasis added]