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L.A. County Sees Spike in Hate Crimes 
By City News Service 
Published November 23, 2017

Los Angeles County saw a spike of 67 percent in hate crimes in 2016 where there was evidence of white supremacist ideology, compared with the previous year, according to a report released Thursday November 16.

The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations 2016 Hate Crime Report tracked 482 hate crimes, one less than in 2015. Despite the total number of crimes remaining nearly identical, the 2015 numbers were a 24 percent increase from the previous year and the highest total since 2011. Because of this, the report concluded that hate crimes continued to be “elevated” in 2016.

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The report also noted that for the first time in many years, the largest group targeted was people from the LGBTQ community, surpassing crimes against African-Americans.

Officials involved in compiling the report noted the spike in white supremacist crimes among its most troubling findings, and some pointed to President Donald Trump — viewed by some critics as supportive of white supremacists and anti-Latino, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ  – as a top reason for the increase.

“He bolsters these groups to give them validation, and they feel emboldened and they can go out and march and organize. And you are seeing a rise,” said Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, to City News Service after a news conference at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration. “I was at a law enforcement summit yesterday, and the whole talk was about white supremacists.”

The commission said it was contacted repeatedly by press and concerned officials wanting to know if the county experienced an increase in hate crimes after the 2016 presidential election in November, so it compiled a special report on the issue and found that hate crimes rose from election day through the end of the year by 9 percent compared with the same time period in 2015.

One documented incident after the election involved an Asian woman walking her dog in Woodland Hills being yelled at from a car by two white males, who called her a number of racist names before yelling “Trump town!” A family in Montrose found a swastika, anti-Latino graffiti and the word “Trump” spray-painted on their home, along with a threatening note filled with racist words and rhetoric.

“The fact that white supremacist crimes grew 67 percent is alarming, particularly in the aftermath of the `Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville. It seems that organized hate groups everywhere are feeling emboldened and increasingly visible,” Commission President Isabelle Gunning said.

L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who represents the 1st District that stretches from downtown L.A. to Pomona and Claremont, said the rise of white supremacist crimes” is of a particular concern to me because I see it in my southeastern part of my own district. In fact, over the last several months we have had to alert the sheriff’s department because white supremacists and anti- immigrant groups have been disruptive in communities like Cudahy and disrupting the City Council meetings. Residents are fearful to attend these meetings because these groups have shown up.”

The L.A. County Commission on Human Relations has compiled the annual report since 1980, and although it concluded that hate crimes are elevated compared to recent years, the 482 reported crimes were far fewer than in some previous years, such as the 1,031 reported in 2001 and the 995 in 1996.

Other noteworthy findings from the report included:

— Hate crimes against African-Americans dropped by 19 percent, from 139 to 112, partly due to a drop in the number of hate crimes by Latino gang members targeting African-Americans.

— The 118 reported homophobic crimes had a high rate of violence (81 percent), and included one murder of a gay man shot to death by his father, who has since been convicted in the killing.

— Gender-based crimes spiked by 77 percent, from 22 to 39, with most being anti-transgender crimes, which jumped from 18 to 31.

— There were 101 religious hate crimes, with two-thirds targeting the Jewish community, although overall reports fell by 2 percent compared to 2015.

— After jumping 69 percent in 2015, anti-Latino crimes increased slightly in 2016, from 61 to 62, and 77 percent of them were violent.

— Anti-white crimes jumped from 11 to 27, a 145 percent rise, with the report noting that whites are 27 percent of the population and composed 11 percent of racial hate crime victims.

— Youth under 18 continue to decline as suspects in hate crimes, and from 2006 to 2016 went from the largest age group of suspects to the smallest.

“We are extremely concerned that reported hate crimes remained at an elevated level in 2016,” said Robin Toma, LACCHR executive director. “And major cities across the country, including the city of Los Angeles, have already reported increases in hate crimes during the first half of 2017.”

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