Report: Fewer Hate Crimes Against APIs in L.A. County

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Human Relations Commission Executive Director Robin Toma speaks at a press conference at Washington Preparatory High School. (Photo by Benjamin Uy)

Rafu Staff and Wire Reports

Reported hate crimes in Los Angeles County fell by 28 percent in 2010 to the lowest level in 21 years, according to the county Commission on Human Relations’ annual report released Nov. 17.

Robin Toma, the commission’s executive director, and Marshall Wong, hate crime coordinator, said that there was a 20 percent decrease in anti-Asian Pacific Islander hate crimes that were reported in the county, dropping from 15 to 12 when compared to the previous year.

The API community was the target of 12 hate crimes in 2010, making it the fourth most targeted group for racial hate crimes the county. African Americans were first, Latinos second, and whites third. This is consistent with past years.

APIs constituted 5 percent of racial hate crime victims although they make up 13 percent of the county population.

Of the anti-API hate crimes reported in 2010, there were four targeting Chinese, three against Koreans, and single hate crimes motivated by prejudice against Filipinos and Japanese. These include hate crimes with evidence of white supremacist ideology.

Asians were targeted by white suspects in 50 percent of the anti-API hate crimes in which the suspect was known, and by Latino suspects in 38 percent.

In 2010, the rate of violence in anti-Asian hate crime reported in the county was 67 percent, an increase from 53 percent in 2009.

This rate of violence was the third-highest of the groups targeted for racial/ethnic/national origin hate crime in 2010, moving ahead of anti-African American hate crime. Anti-black hate crime had a higher rate of violence than anti-Asian crime in 2009.

For the first time, the commission analyzed the rates of violence of the hate crimes reported for certain targeted groups over the last five years. The rate of violence for all anti-Asian hate crimes from 2006 to 2010 is 54 percent.

Of the anti-gay/lesbian hate crimes reported in 2010, 2 percent involved API victims.

Details of Incidents

The following were taken from police reports, which did not indicate whether the victims were immigrant or American-born.

• In Chatsworth, a 16-year-old youth was walking on the street with his girlfriend. An older white teen yelled “Chink” and “White power” and hit him in the face. The suspect chased the couple to the victim’s home. He tried to hit the victim again, then jumped in a car and took off.

• An Asian man jogging in Pasadena noticed he was being followed by a car. The Latino driver stopped, exited the vehicle and knocked him to the ground while yelling, “Dumb ass! Chink!”

• A Korean man in Agoura Hills found swastikas and the word “Chink” and other racial slurs painted on his residence. He saw a group of young white males.

• An unknown suspect or suspects spray-painted numerous derogatory words, including “F— Niggers, Beaners, Chinks,” on a large vertical pipe along with a swastika.

• A Korean educational aide at a middle school was told by a student, “F— you! Go back to Koreatown.” The victim called security and the student threatened to stab him.

• A 14-year-old Korean student at a middle school in Koreatown was pushed by a Latino student who called him “Chino” (“Chinese” in Spanish).

• In Van Nuys, a Filipino postal employee was delivering mail when a younger white man told him, “Get your ass back to Korea, you f—ing a–hole!” and pushed him on his chest with both hands, causing him to fall onto the ground.

• A 14-year-old Asian boy was with two black friends at a residence in Canoga Park. A white male shot the black friends with a BB gun and forced all three friends to lie on the floor.

• A Chinese male found messages on his office phone in Koreatown disparaging his race and sexual orientation.

• In East L.A., the principal at an adult community school received a threatening letter, in which she was called a “Jap.” The writer went on to threaten to stab her in the eyes with an ice pick.

• In Canoga Park, a Filipina found graffiti on her mailbox, “F— Foreigners.”

• At a middle school in Marina Del Rey, a Muslim student was harassed by a black student who told him,  “Hey, midget, why don’t you go back to Afghanistan?” The victim replied, “I’m not from Afghanistan!” The suspect punched him in the left eye with a closed right fist.

Fewer Crimes Overall

The commission defines a hate crime as one where hatred or prejudice toward a victim’s race or ethnicity, religion, disability, gender, or sexual orientation was a substantial factor.

According to the 2010 report, there were 427 reported hate crimes countywide, a decline of 166 from the previous year.

Fifty-one percent of the crimes were race-based, with 53 percent of those targeting blacks.

The report showed that 59 percent of racially motivated crimes against blacks were committed by Latinos, and 68 percent of racially motivated crimes targeting Latinos were committed by blacks.

Crimes based on sexual orientation remained at about the same level as the previous year — 27 percent of all of the hate crimes — but were more likely to be violent than crimes based on race or religion.

Religious crimes, which were primarily anti-Semitic in nature, fell 17 percent.

“The overall decline in hate crimes is a good trend, but it is still disturbing the the overwhelming majority of those motivated by religions in Los Angeles County, statewide and across the country are against Jews and Jewish institutions,” said Amanda Susskind, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights group with a focus on documenting and fighting anti-Semitism.

The report came the day after Riverside County authorities announced they were investigating the carving of two swastikas discovered Wednesday in the lawn of a Palm Desert senior center.

The highest rate of hate crimes took place in the Antelope Valley, followed by the metro region stretching from West Hollywood to Boyle Heights. The San Gabriel Valley and the southeastern portion of the county had the lowest rates.

The commission’s report was generated from data collected from sheriff and city police departments, school districts and community groups.

The press conference was held at Washington Preparatory High School, where the commission has a human relations/anti-prejudice program.

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