Los Angeles County saw a 20% increase in reported hate crimes in 2020, an increase attributed mostly to a 53% jump in racial hate crimes.
The majority of hate crimes in L.A. County, 75%, targeted four groups: Black people, members of the LGBTQ community, Jewish people and Latinos, continuing a trend from previous years, according to a report released Wednesday by the L.A. County Commission on Human Relations.
An increase of 76% in hate crimes against Asians in 2020 was previously reported by the commission.
Of these groups, only Jewish people saw a decline in reported acts of hate, down 18%.
However, in 2019, hate crimes against Jewish people increased 18%, while crimes against the other groups declined.
Hate crimes include violent crimes such as homicide and assault as well as some nonviolent crimes such as racialized graffiti.
The overall rate of hate crimes involving violence increased from 65% to 68% of total hate crimes — the highest rate since 2003. The group most targeted in violent attacks were transgender people, specifically transgender women.
Of the hate crimes reported against transgender people, about 94% were violent.
Crimes against Black people increased 35%, from 125 to 169.
Even though Black people make up only 9% of L.A. County residents, 42% of racial hate crime victims last year were Black, according to the report. Black people were also overrepresented in attacks against transgender and LGBTQ people.
About half of attackers in anti-Black hate crimes where the assailant’s race was known were white, followed by Latinos at 42%. This marks only the second time in 21 years that white people, not Latinos, committed the largest number of anti-Black crimes.
In one case, a Black woman was driving to work in Torrance in December when she realized she was being tailgated, according to the report.
A white male motorist followed her into her company’s parking lot. When he got out of his car, he started yelling anti-Black, anti-Muslim and anti-female slurs, threatening to kill her. The victim isn’t Muslim but was wearing a head scarf, the report said.
Anti-white crimes saw the highest increase of any racial or ethnic group, increasing 127% from 22 to 50.
Most suspects — 78% — were Black, followed by Latinos at 17%.
In a number of the anti-white cases, suspects made references to the Black Lives Matter movement, according to the report.
In one case, a Black man pulled a gun on a white man and robbed him, calling him a “white devil” and yelling “This is for George Floyd!” according to the report.
In three cases, suspects made remarks about former President Trump.
A Trump supporter whose race the report doesn’t include was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat with a Trump flag attached to his bicycle. A Black man yelled, “F— Trump! F— white people!” and grabbed the flag, knocking the man to the ground.
White people make up 28% of the county’s population and in 2020 made up 12% of racial hate crime victims — the largest percentage since 2003.
The U.S. Department of Justice has estimated that at least half of hate crimes go unreported. Experts generally agree that hate crimes data is useful to spot trends, but does not depict the full extent of acts of hate.
The L.A. County Commission on Human Relations has produced its annual report on hate crimes since 1980, using data submitted by sheriff’s and city law enforcement agencies, educational institutions and community-based organizations.
The L.A. metro area, defined in the report as stretching from West Hollywood to Boyle Heights, saw the highest rate of hate crimes overall — about 13 hate crimes per 100,000 people — followed by seven hate crimes per 100,000 people in the Westside, which includes Beverly Hills, Culver City and several beach cities.
Latinos were the second largest group of victims, targeted in 26% of racial hate crimes. The number of anti-Latino crimes reported jumped 58%, from 67 in 2019 to 106 in 2020.
In almost two-thirds of these crimes, anti-Mexican slurs were used by attackers.
The commission notes in its report that although Latinos make up about half of L.A. County’s population, they are a surprisingly low percentage of reported hate crimes victims.
One factor could be an increasing reluctance among immigrants to contact law enforcement because of fears about deportation.
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