Los Angeles County hate crime reports increased 20% in 2020

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An aerial view of mostly empty streets and parking lots with the downtown skyline in the background amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 4, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The number of hate crimes reported last year in Los Angeles County was the highest in 12 years, led by a spike in racial crimes, the County Commission on Human Relations said Wednesday in an annual report.

The total of 635 hate crimes reported in 2020 was a 20% increase over the previous year, and 61% were racially motivated crimes, the report said.

African-Americans, who are just 9% of the county population, accounted for 42% of racial crime victims, according to the report. A total of 169 anti-Black crimes were reported, an increase of 35%.

Anti-Latino crimes were up 58% to 106 and anti-white crimes jumped to 50, a 127% increase. The report’s statistics also reflected the trend of hate crimes targeting Asians, which increased 76%, from 25 to 44.

“This report is another alarming reminder that we have a long way to go in building a more inclusive and just society,” said Hilda L. Solis, chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

The Los Angeles County findings are similar to a June report by the state attorney general that found hate crime in California surged 31% in 2020, fueled mainly by a big jump in crimes targeting Black people.

California saw large protests in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer. And it also saw a surge in attacks on people of Asian descent following the emergence of the coronavirus in China.

The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations has produced a report on hate crimes since 1980. The commission compiles and analyzes data from law enforcement agencies, educational institutions and community-based organizations.

Most of the reports are from police agencies and the school reports are mostly from the educational institutions’ own law enforcement or security agencies, said Robin S. Toma, the commission executive director.

The commission takes some reports from community-based organizations because of underreporting of hate crimes to police, Toma said. Before including them in the commission report, they are vetted to ensure they allege a hate crime and not merely a “hate incident, “and to ensure they have not already been included in a police report.

Other findings of the county report show that in 2020, there were 56 reported hate crimes in which there were specific uses of anti-immigrant slurs. The commission said that was the largest number ever recorded.

Crimes involving sexual orientation increased 17% to 122 and 84% targeted gay men.

The Jewish community was targeted in 88% of the 86 crimes motivated by religion, a category that saw an 18% decline from 2019.

Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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