Report: Hate Crimes in L.A. County Continue to Climb

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LACCHR Executive Director Robin Toma

The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations (LACCHR) on Oct. 18 released its annual account of hate crimes reported throughout the county in 2017.

The report’s significant findings include the following:

• There were 508 hate crimes reported in the county in 2017, a 5% increase from the previous year. For the past four years, hate crimes have been trending upwards and since 2013 there has been a 32% rise.

• Fifty percent of all hate crimes were racially motivated and they increased 9% from 235 to 256. After declining significantly the previous year, anti-black hate crimes rose 15% from 112 to 129. African Americans only comprise 9% of county residents but make up 50% of racial hate crime victims. African Americans were also over-represented as victims of sexual orientation and anti-transgender crimes.

Anti-Latino/a crimes rose for the third year in a row, from 62 to 72, a 16% increase. Latino/as were the most likely of any racial/ethnic group to be victims of violent racially motivated crime (77%). Suspects used anti-immigrant slurs in 40% of these cases.

• Crimes targeting gay men, lesbians and LGBT organizations declined slightly (2%) but constituted 21% of all reported hate crimes. Seventy-six percent of these crimes were of a violent nature, a rate higher than those motivated by race (63%) or religion (20%). 100% of anti-lesbian crimes were of a violent nature.

• There were 101 religious crimes, the same number as the previous year. They comprised 20% of all hate crimes and 72% were anti-Jewish.

• For the second year in a row, a record number of anti-transgender crimes were reported (33) and 94% were of a violent nature.

• The overall rate of violence declined from 61% to 56% but aggravated assaults rose 47%.

• There were nine hate crimes reported in which the suspects referenced President Trump’s name.

• Hate crimes occurred throughout the county, but the largest number took place in the San Fernando Valley, followed by the Metro region that stretches from West Hollywood to Boyle Heights. The highest rate of hate crimes occurred in the Metro region, followed by the western part of the county that includes a number of affluent beach cities.

“Putting an end to hate crimes is a top priority for the County of Los Angeles,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Sheila Kuehl. “We live in one of the most culturally diverse places in the world with more than 200 languages and cultures enriching the region. Hate violence, white nationalism, misogyny, and all forms of intolerance are not welcome here.”

“We are extremely concerned that reported hate crimes in L.A. County have been trending upwards for four years in a row,” said Robin Toma, LACCHR executive director. “The rise in L.A. County mirrors increases in hate crimes in most major U.S. cities in 2017.”

“We are truly alarmed at the continued over-representation of African Americans in racial hate crimes and the extremely high rates of violence directed against gay men, lesbians and transgender victims,” said Commission President Jarret Barrios.

To view the complete report, including hate crime maps, graphs and tables, visit wdacs.lacounty.gov or www.lahumanrelations.org.

Anti-Asian Incidents

Reported anti-Asian hate crimes in the county increased slightly from 16 in 2016 to 18 in 2017.

It should be noted that these 18 anti-Asian hate crimes do not include a case in which seven Asian American tenants living on the edge of Koreatown found their cars vandalized with swastikas and other graffiti in their apartment building’s parking structure. There were no racial slurs but the word “fagz” was used once. None of the victims had any idea why their vehicles were targeted. It is possible that the vandal picked their cars at random.

There were also two cases in which Asian Indians were attacked because they were perceived to be Armenian or Middle Eastern.

Although Asian Americans constitute 15 percent of Los Angeles County residents, they were targeted in only 5 percent of racial hate crimes. However, the commission believes that under-reporting of hate crimes is a serious problem in the Asian community because of linguistic and cultural barriers, immigration status, unfamiliarity with the criminal justice system, and fear that reporting hate crimes could bring retaliation or unwanted publicity.

In five of these crimes, anti-Chinese slurs were used. There were anti-Japanese, Korean, and Filipino insults used in two crimes each. Anti-Vietnamese and Indian language was used in one crime each. In the remainder of the anti-Asian hate crimes, no specific ethnic group was singled out.

Anti-immigrant statements were used in six (33 percent) of anti-Asian hate crimes.

Fifty percent of these crimes were of a violent nature, which was lower than the rates of violence experienced by Latinos, African Americans, and whites but the same rate as Middle Eastern victims. The previous year, the rate of violence in anti-Asian hate crimes had been 53 percent.

In cases where a suspect was identified, 42 percent of the perpetrators of anti-Asian hate crimes were white, followed by blacks (33 percent) and Latino/as (17 percent). This represented decreases in the numbers of white and Latino/a suspects and an increase in black suspects.

Following are examples of anti-Asian hate crimes committed in 2017.

Feb. 13, West Los Angeles

An Asian female victim was walking at night when she noticed a middle-aged white male suspect following her for two blocks. The suspect called the victim a “f–king China bitch.” The victim stopped and turned towards the suspect and he spit on her. The victim ran into a grocery store to escape the assailant.

May 29, Sylmar

A Sikh Indian male was in front of his home when two Latino male suspects drove by and shouted, “Go back to your country! Go the f–k back to India! You’re not welcome here!” The victim responded, “This is my country.” About 10 minutes later the suspects returned and threw half-full water bottles at the victim, missing him. They then yelled, “F—ing Indian, go back to where you came from! You f—ing Muslim! I’m gonna kill you and your family!” They also gestured with their hands to simulate shooting him with a handgun.

June 14, West Los Angeles

An Asian woman victim was walking to a restaurant when a white male suspect asked her, “Where are you from? Are you from Korea?” The victim didn’t respond. The suspect then told her, “You’re the enemy!” He picked up and threw a traffic cone, which struck the victim’s back.

Nov. 17, Lake Balboa

Two Asian men found their cars vandalized with the graffiti, “Go back to your country f–ken Nips or else feel the wrath of the white nation.”

Nov. 29, Pico Union

An Asian female victim was walking towards her parked car. A white male approached her yelling racial slurs and profanity. The victim ignored the suspect and entered her vehicle. The suspect yelled, “I f—ing hate you Asians! You crazy Asian bitch c–t! Get out of my country! We don’t need you here!” The suspect reached through the open passenger window and grabbed the victim’s hair. He pulled her towards him and struck her head repeatedly with his other hand. The victim fought off her attacker and he fled on foot.

Dec. 4, West Los Angeles

On an Expo Line train, a black male suspect verbally threatened an Asian male victim. He stated, “I’m a Crip…you f—ing chink.” He then started sexually harassing the victim’s female companion. The victim replied, “Hey, don’t be rude. That’s disrespectful.” The suspect then said, “What did you say about me?” and struck the victim in the back of his head and exited the train. The victim sought medical attention for his injury.

Dec. 15, Huntington Park

A Korean man repeatedly asked two Latino males to not drink alcohol in front of his store. He then found graffiti that read, “F–k Korea” and “SGTKS13,” which stands for the gang “South Gate Tokers–13.” The victim estimated that it would cost $1,000 to re-paint his wall.

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