Report: Largest Number of Hate Crimes in L.A. County Since 2009

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The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations (LACCHR) on Wednesday released its annual account of hate crimes reported throughout Los Angeles County in 2018.

The report’s significant findings include the following:

• There were 521 hate crimes reported in the county in 2018, a 2.6% increase from the previous year. This is the largest number reported since 2009. For the past five years, hate crimes have been trending upwards. Since reported hate crimes hit a 23-year low in 2013 there has been a 36% rise.

• Fifty-two percent of all hate crimes were racially motivated and they increased 11% from 256 to 283. African Americans only comprise 9% of L.A. County residents but make up nearly half of racial hate crime victims. Anti-black crimes rose 9% from 129 to 140. African Americans were also over-represented as victims of sexual orientation and anti-transgender crimes.

Anti-Latino/a crimes rose for the fourth year in a row, from 72 to 85, a 16% increase. After Middle Eastern victims, Latino/as were the most likely of any racial/ethnic group to be victims of violent racially motivated crime (68%).

• Crimes targeting gay men, lesbians and LGBT organizations increased 20% from 108 to 130 and comprised 24% of all reported hate crimes; 72% of these crimes were of a violent nature, a rate higher than those motivated by race (64%) or religion (28%).

• There were 97 religious crimes, a decrease of 4%. They comprised 18% of all hate crimes; 83% were anti-Jewish.

• After two years of record highs, anti-transgender crimes declined 24% from 37 to 25, but 92% were of a violent nature, the highest rate of any victim group.

• The overall rate of violence increased from 56% to 61%. They included two murders and several attempted murders, the majority of which were part of an anti-black shooting spree allegedly committed by a gang member.

• Hate crimes committed by gang members increased 31% from 36 to 47. Gang members were responsible for 9% of all hate crimes and 14% of racially-motivated crimes; 64% of these crimes were of a violent nature.

• The largest number of hate crimes took place in the Metro Service Planning Area, which stretches from West Hollywood to Boyle Heights, followed by the San Fernando Valley region. However, if one compares the populations of the areas to the numbers of reported hate crimes, the Metro region had the highest rate followed by Western region (which includes West L.A., Beverly Hills, Culver City and a number of affluent beach communities).

“The troubling rise of these acts of hate must be met with unwavering condemnation,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis. “We must come together in solidarity to combat racism and bigotry head-on. As part of this ongoing effort, we must also initiate honest conversations, and build bridges of understanding with one another and tear down walls of fear and division.

“Every L.A. County resident has a right to live free of prejudice, discrimination, harassment, and violence. To that end, I will introduce a motion at our Oct. 1 board meeting that will launch L.A. County’s first anti-hate initiative, which will facilitate the way in which residents report hate crimes and will expedite the county’s response so we could swiftly support victims and ensure that justice is served against those who seek to divide us.”

“The steady increase in hate crimes in our county is alarming,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “As this report shows, hate not only impacts our most vulnerable residents but has a devasting impact on all families and communities. We must fight intolerance with unity. It is our duty to ensure that seeds of hate are not planted in our society by redoubling our efforts to ensure that no hate acts go unreported.”

“We are disturbed that reported hate crimes in L.A. County have been rising for five years in a row,” said Robin Toma, LACCHR executive director. “Major cities across the nation are experiencing similar increases.”

“We are truly alarmed at the continued over-representation of African Americans in racial, sexual orientation and anti-transgender hate crimes,” said Commission President Jarrett Barrios. “The continued growth of anti-Latino crimes and frequent use of anti-immigrant language is of grave concern given the recent mass-shooting in El Paso.”

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

Anti-Asian Hate Crimes

In 2018, anti-Asian hate crimes increased slightly from 18 to 19.

Although Asian Americans constitute 15% of Los Angeles County residents, they were targeted in only 7% of reported 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 three of these crimes, specific anti-Chinese slurs were used. There were also cases of vandalism in El Monte in which “F–k Chinos” was painted on four residences on the same street. In Spanish, “chino” literally translates to “Chinese” but is commonly used to refer to all Asians. There were two crimes in which anti-Korean language was reported. There was also a case in which two Asian Indians were attacked by a female white transient and told to “Go back to Calcutta!”

In the remainder of the anti-Asian hate crimes no specific ethnic group was singled out.

Anti-immigrant slurs were used in six of the anti-Asian hate crimes. Of these, 58% were of a violent nature, which was lower than the rates of violence experienced by Middle Easterners, Latinos, and African Americans but the same rate as white victims. The previous year the rate of violence in anti-Asian hate crimes had been 50%.

In cases where a suspect was identified, 36% of the perpetrators of anti-Asian hate crimes were white, followed by blacks and Latino/as (27% each). This represented a decrease in the numbers of white suspects and an increase in the number of Latino suspects.

Incident descriptions:

April 5, Koreatown: An 18-year-old Korean male was on a bus when a group of juvenile males sat behind him. Some of the suspects began to touch the back of the victim’s head and flick his ear to annoy him. A Latino male moved and sat directly behind the victim, who asked, “Why are you doing this?” The suspect replied, “F–king Chinese! Go back to China!” The suspect then struck the victim with his fist. The suspect and his companions then all exited the bus.

Sept. 12, USC: While leaving work, a 50-year-old Chinese male employee found the word “Gook” scratched into both front doors of his car. The cost to repair the damage was estimated to be $2,000.

Sept. 25, City Terrace: An Asian female high school teacher received a threatening email that included the statements, “Hate your f–king class and a Chink like you doesn’t deserve to live!” “Finna shoot this sh-t up!” and “Burn in hell, Chink!” A 14-year-old white student was arrested for making criminal threats.

Sept. 17 and 18, Compton: The victims are the Korean American owners of a beauty store. A 45-year-old black female was looking at a display of nose rings. The male victim asked the suspect not to touch the jewelry because it had to remain sterile. The suspect yelled, “F–k you, you f–kin’ Asian Go back to Korea! I’ll make sure no black people come to your store again. You’re gonna lose money and business. No black people will ever come back here!”

As the suspect left, she knocked several bottles of hair products off a shelf, causing them to break. The victim stated she needed to pay for the damaged items. The suspect returned, assumed a fighting stance and said, “F–k you, Koreans! Go back to your country!” The suspect punched the victim several times. The victim pushed her outside and locked the door. The attack was captured on video.

The following day the suspect’s younger brother entered the store and shouted, “Get the f–k out of my country, you f–king Korean! F–k Koreans! You hit my sister!” The owner told the suspect to leave his store. The suspect then struck the victim in the face. The victim’s wife tried to intervene and the suspect punched her in the chin and arm.

When police arrived, a crowd had gathered in the parking lot. Some of those gathered yelled obscenities and threw objects at the officers. Police made four arrests.

Nov. 15, West Hollywood: After a visit to a local park, an Asian woman found a large swastika scratched onto the hood of her car.

Nov. 30, West Lake: An elderly Asian man was standing in public when a Latino male approached him and struck him in the chest with his elbow, knocking him to the ground. The victim asked, “Why?” and the suspect answered, “I don’t like Asian people.”

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