L.A. County hate crimes at highest level in nearly 2 decades

Hate crimes in Los Angeles County rose in 2021 to their highest level since 2002, according to a report released Wednesday by the County Commission on Human Relations.

The report recorded 786 victims of hate crimes, a 23% increase from 2020. The crimes mostly involved violent acts, and more than half were motivated by racism. Black, Latino, Jewish and LGBTQ people were among the most affected groups.

According to the report, 49 hate crime cases were referred to prosecutors in 2021. In 42 cases, the public prosecutor brought charges. Of the adults charged, 31 were charged with felonies and nine with misdemeanor charges.

“We truly believe there is a need not to hide the ugly reality of hate violence in our communities, which these results and numbers represent,” said Robin Toma, executive director of the Human Relations Commission, at a news conference on the report. which the district office has published annually since 1980.

Toma attributed part of the increase to the county making it easier to report hate crimes in recent years. In 2020, the county launched its LA vs Hate initiative, which includes a state hotline for reporting hate crimes. Voters can reach it by dialing 211.

But an increase in political polarization and violence likely also fueled the rise. In the past 11 months, the country has seen a massacre of black shoppers at a grocery store in Buffalo, NY, and a rampage at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn said Wednesday the country was in a “hate crisis.”

Dist. atty George Gascón said the rise in hate crimes continued into 2022. He said his office had filed a record number of criminal hate crime cases this year, including against a woman who assaulted a 53-year-old transgender woman in Inglewood and a woman in Long Beach who made racial threats against her neighbor.

“The numbers are clearly worrying,” Gascón said. “I have to say that I am deeply disturbed by what we are seeing.”

Compared to 2020, hate crimes have increased across all categories, according to the report.

There were 25 other religiously motivated hate crimes: Of the 111 religiously motivated crimes, three quarters were directed against Jews.

In addition, there were 18 other crimes related to sexual orientation: out of 140 victims of such crimes, 85% targeted gay men.

And there were 67 other racially motivated hate crimes. Of the 473 racist hate crimes, nearly half the victims were black, in a county where black residents make up just 9% of the population.

The county also recorded 77 victims of hate crimes against Asians – the most in at least two decades. During the pandemic, Asian Americans have seen a surge in violent attacks as they have been scapegoated for the spread of COVID-19. In nearly a quarter of the incidents in LA County, the perpetrator of the attack blamed the victim for the pandemic, according to the report.

The report provides details on a handful of reported hate crimes.

In January 2021, a maintenance worker discovered a Santa Clarita elementary school covered in anti-Semitic graffiti.

A few weeks later, someone threatened a Hollywood-based LGBTQ organization, saying they planned to shoot people at the facility and using a racial slur.

A month later, a driver in West Los Angeles threw a metal coil and a bottle at an Iranian woman and shouted insults as she pulled up beside her.

The county’s report focuses solely on 2021 and doesn’t include data from 2022, but experts say it’s unlikely the trend has changed.

According to Los Angeles Police Department data analyzed by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, hate crimes in Los Angeles increased by 12% in the first 10 months of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021 Black numbers rose 38% – from 122 to 168 – and anti-Jewish hate crimes rose 13% from 71 to 80.

Brian Levin, the center’s director, said he expects hate crimes to continue to rise through 2023 as high-profile figures like Kanye West make openly anti-Semitic remarks online and in interviews. Two months ago a hate group waved a banner on a 405 Freeway overpass in Los Angeles in support of the rapper’s comments.

“It’s not just the kind of anti-Semitic attack that happens now when someone wants to remain anonymous in a dark alley,” Levin said. “It’s an outrageous kind of anti-Semitism.”

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-12-07/hate-crimes-la-county L.A. County hate crimes at highest level in nearly 2 decades

Alley Einstein

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