Hate Crimes Increase 15%, But Total Remains 2nd-Lowest in 22 years

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The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations (LACCHR) on Oct. 24 released its annual examination of hate crimes reported throughout Los Angeles County.

The findings for 2011 show that after falling dramatically three years in a row, the number of hate crimes rose from 427 to 489, a 15% increase over the previous year.

All major categories of hate crimes increased: both race/ethnicity/national origin crimes and sexual orientation crimes rose 13%, and religion-motivated crimes grew by 24%.  Hate crimes reflecting white supremacist ideology rose from being 18 to 21% of all hate crimes.

LACCHR Executive Director Robin Toma (Rafu Shimpo photo)

However, the annual total is still the second-lowest recorded during the past 22 years.

“The 15% increase in hate crime is cause for concern, since it exceeds the increase in crime in general,” LACCHR Executive Director Robin Toma commented. “But we are encouraged that across the board hate crimes based on race, sexual orientation, and religion are still among the lowest reported in the past two decades.”

He added that the decreases in gang-involved hate crimes in the four areas targeted by the county’s Gang Violence Reduction Initiative come at the end of multi-year efforts by law enforcement crack-downs on gangs with histories of racial violence, and by LACCHR and Los Angeles County agencies and partners to increase re-entry, violence intervention, and community engagement.

“While we are heartened by the relatively low numbers, we are alarmed that 21% of hate crimes show evidence of white supremacist ideology and 12% of hate crimes were committed by gang members,” LACCHR President Kathay Feng remarked. “This means that potentially a full third of hate crimes are committed by mission offenders who believe that they are part of a larger cause to terrorize entire communities.”

About half of all hate crimes were racially motivated. Once again, African Americans were targeted most frequently (60%), and a greater percentage of hate crimes were committed by gang members.

A quarter of all hate crimes was motivated by the sexual orientation of the victims. As in the past, the overwhelming majority (84%) targeted gay men. Homophobic crimes were more likely to be of a violent nature (71%) than either racial (54%) or religious crimes (20%).

Religion-motivated crimes constituted 18% of all hate crimes. Consistent with previous years, the overwhelming number, 77%, were anti-Jewish.

Although there were no hate-motivated murders in 2011, there was a case in which gang members attempted to murder three African American victims.

Hate crimes occurred throughout the variety of regions of Los Angeles County, but the largest numbers were concentrated in the San Fernando Valley followed by the Metro region (stretching from West Hollywood to Boyle Heights). When accounting for population, the Metro region had highest rate of hate crimes, followed by the Antelope Valley.

To view the complete report, including maps, graphs and tables, visit www.lahumanrelations.org.

Anti-Asian Hate Crimes

A total of 12 crimes targeting Asian Pacific Islanders were reported in 2011. Six were determined to be anti-Asian but not aimed at a specific ethnicity; four were anti-Chinese; others were classified as anti-Afghan, anti-Filipino and anti-Korean (one each).

The commission provided the following summaries. The reports do not specify whether a victim was immigrant or U.S.-born.

• Los Angeles (near Beverly Center): An Asian male was waiting in line to pay for parking when a black male suspect punched him in the face and shouted, “You f—ing chink!”

• Hawaiian Gardens: A Japanese male victim had his apartment broken into and vandalized in multiple locations with the graffiti “F— chinos.”

• Rolling Hills (Palos Verdes): A Seventh Day Adventist church with a large number of Asian congregants was spray-painted with “Chines F—s.”

• Rowland Heights (unincorporated portion of L.A. County): At a Korean restaurant, a group of five Koreans asked a customer if he was Chinese. When he said yes, they attacked him, smashed all his car windows, and stole his GPS and wallet.

• Palmdale: The home of a Filipina victim was vandalized, including graffiti of a swastika.

• Woodland Hills: An Iranian high school student was threatened by a Latino male suspect, who said he was going to “bring all my friends form Canoga Gang … and … them Afghans are gonna get f—d up.” He gestured toward his waistband and said, “I have a weapon right here.”

• Long Beach: A black female suspect approached an older Vietnamese male at a Metro station, told him, “I don’t like Asian people,” and pushed him onto the tracks. He escaped before a train arrived.

• Santa Clarita: A Filipino was attacked by a juvenile who told him, “I hate Filipinos! I’m an American and you’re just an immigrant! I’ll kill you!”

• San Gabriel: A Vietnamese female received two threatening letters at her residence that stated, “I hate ugly Chinese bitch. Go back to China. Your son is a bastard … go back to China! Move or kill Chinese people.” Both letters included drawings of knives dripping with blood.

• Temple City: An older Chinese female leaving a restaurant was confronted by a white male standing in front of her vehicle. Angered because she had a pet dog in her car, he yelled, “I’m going to hit you, you stupid Chinese bitch! Go back to China!” He struck her five times in the face.

• Lakewood: A white female victim found white supremacist chalk graffiti that was anti-black and anti-Chinese.

• North Hills: An unknown suspect or suspects broke into a Korean church, ransacked the rooms, wrote “F— off Chinos” with baby powder and ink, and put a VHS tape in a toaster oven, which filled an entire room with smoke.

• West Los Angeles: A Japanese female had her vehicle vandalized with a swastika. The damage was estimated at $4,500.

In addition to these racial crimes, there were five Asian victims of homophobic crimes and one Asian victim of a religious hate crime.

LACCHR staff member Marshall Wong said the commission did not know if arrests have been made in any of these incidents.

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