Hate crimes in L.A. County reach highest level in nearly two decades




  • In US
  • 2022-12-07 20:44:27Z
  • By LA Times
Participants in an anti-hate rally in 2021 in Los Angeles. (Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)
Participants in an anti-hate rally in 2021 in Los Angeles. (Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)  

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

The report noted 786 victims of hate crimes, a 23% increase over 2020. The crimes overwhelmingly included acts of violence, and more than half were spurred by racism. Blacks, Latinos, Jews and LGBTQ individuals were among the most-targeted groups.

According to the report, 49 hate crime cases were referred to the district attorney's office in 2021. The office filed charges in 42 cases. Of the 41 adults prosecuted, 31 were charged with felonies and nine with misdemeanors.

"We really feel it's necessary to not hide the ugly reality of hate violence in our communities, which is what these findings and numbers represent," said Robin Toma, the executive director of the Human Relations Commission, at a news conference on the report, which the county office has produced annually since 1980.

Dist. Atty. George Gascón said the uptick has continued through 2022. He said his office has filed a record number of criminal cases involving hate crimes this year, including against a woman who assaulted a 53-year-old transgender woman in Inglewood and a woman in Long Beach who made racially charged threats against her neighbor.

"The numbers are clearly troubling," Gascón said. "I have to say that I'm deeply disturbed about what we're seeing."

In the last 11 months, the country has seen a massacre of Black shoppers at a Buffalo, N.Y., grocery store and a rampage at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Compared with 2020, more hate crimes were motivated by religion. Of the 111 victims of religious crimes, three-quarters were Jewish. In addition, there were more crimes related to people's sexual orientation: Of 140 victims of such crimes, 85% of were gay men. And there were more hate crimes motivated by race. Of the 473 racial hate crimes, nearly half the victims were Black, in a county where Black residents make up just 9% of the population.

The report laid out details of a handful of the reported hate crimes.

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

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

A month after that, a driver in West Los Angeles threw a metal coil and a bottle at a Persian woman, yelling out insults as she pulled alongside her.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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