Christal Mims, Staff
A new report from the L.A. County Commission on Human Relations (LACCHR) depicts a higher number of violent hate crimes, with a 36 percent increase since hitting a 30-year low in 2013. White supremacist crimes have jumped by 38 percent and 47 percent of racial hate crimes targeted African Americans.
“For those who believe that racism is no longer a problem, I invite you to review the examples this report provides of these vile and cowardly crimes, more than 70 percent of which were classified as violent in nature,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
The overall number of hate crimes has only risen slightly, to 524 from 523 the previous year, but the increase continues a six-year upward trend. Hate-motivated violence in 2019 increased from 61 percent of total hate crimes to 65 percent which is the highest percentage reported since 2007.
The largest number of hate crimes took place in the Metro Service Planning Area (SPA) followed by the San Fernando Valley SPA.
“It is troubling that hate crimes in L.A. County have been rising for six years in a row,” Robin Toma, LACCHR executive director, said about the report. “We also saw the highest rate of violence in 12 years.”
Other findings include a drop in anti-Black crimes committed by gang members by 37 percent.
L.A. County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis said that there’s a lot more work to be done in terms of standing up to racially motivated violence.
“Marginalized communities continue to be targeted and discriminated against,” she explained. “L.A. County must continue to combat racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and white supremacy. We have to ensure that Los Angeles County is truly a place where everyone can be who they are without fear.”
The coronavirus pandemic may have also contributed to a rise in hate crimes against Asians, who have been blamed for the spread of the virus; anti-Asian crimes grew by 32 percent.
There were also 48 crimes in which the suspects used specifically anti-immigrant language. This is the second largest number of crimes reported with such slurs since the report started tracking xenophobic slurs in 2001.
While sexual orientation crimes dropped 22 percent, anti-transgender crimes increased from 25 to 41, the largest number ever reported. This also makes transgenger individuals the highest of any victim group at 92 percent.
County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl believes President Donald Trump’s insensitive language toward minorities has encouraged those who hold biases to commit hate crimes.
“The county cannot be fully insulated from the results of the torrent of hatred and intolerance that has emanated from the White House for four long years,” Kuehl said. “I am deeply saddened by this year’s report, including recording the largest number of anti-transgender hate crimes ever.”
Religious crimes grew 11 percent and made up 19 percent of all hate crimes; 89 percent of those crimes were anti-Semitic.
LACCHR staff have coordinated a countywide Network Against Hate Crime initiative that includes government representatives, law enforcement agencies, civil and human rights organizations, educators, faith communities and service groups. They also support the Hate Violence Prevention Partnership LA that works to “reduce and end hate violence by providing practitioners opportunities to share best practices and exchange relevant and timely information.”