Hate crimes and incidents spiked following the election of President Donald Trump in November, according to figures in a staff report of the Orange County Human Relations Commission released Thursday June 1.
The rise in racially charged incidents comes at a time when the Orange County Board of Supervisors is considering scrapping funding for OC Human Relations, the nonprofit that funds the commission.
Orange County officials asked for bids to run the commission, but OC Human Relations was the only organization that responded and staff recommended a $252,000 annual contract. But in April, Orange County Board Chair Michelle Steel and Supervisor Andrew Do has the proposed funding taken off the board’s agenda for consideration.
Backers of OC Human Relations were girding for battle at Tuesday’s board meeting to encourage supervisors to approve the contract. If they do not receive the funding, the commission faces eviction from its offices on Grand Avenue in Santa Ana.
Rabbi Richard Steinberg of Shir-Ha-Ma’alot synagogue in Irvine said the commission’s relationship with the nonprofit has been a “perfect public private” partnership for three decades that has raised about $30 million for the commission’s efforts to promote racial harmony.
“I don’t know what other people’s agendas are,” Steinberg said of critics of the commission. “All I know is our agenda. On the face of it the commission and nonprofit might look like a left of center organization, but all you have to look at for just 10 seconds are the 800 kids who come to a program on how to talk to each other. You can see the amazing work of the `In My Shoes Program.’ It’s anything but political. It’s teaching people to talk to each other and be good citizens and fight for the underdog and oppressed. This is good stuff that brings people together.”
The commission has come under fire from critics who have complained of Brown Act violations, among other things. Do told City News Service in April that there has been too much of a “blurring” of the lines between the nonprofit and the county agency.
“We have absolutely no oversight in what they’re doing” Do said, adding he supports the concept of a human relations agency.
There were 50 reported hate crimes last year in Orange County. That’s up from 44 in 2015, according to the commission.
The so-called “hate incidents” saw the most eye-popping increase. Those are defined as racially charged incidents that don’t necessarily rise the level of a crime.
Last year, there were 72 reported hate incidents, up from 43 the prior year.
Blacks are the most frequent target of hate crimes in Orange County, despite only making up 2.1 percent of the county’s population. Fourteen percent of the county’s reported hate crimes involved black residents, according to the commission.
The second most targeted group was lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents, who accounted for 10 percent of the hate crimes
There was a drop in hate crimes against LGBT individuals from 11 in 2015 to five last year.
Hate crimes against Latinos doubled from two in 2015 to four last year. There was an increase from three to four in hate crimes against Asians.
Anti-Semitic hate crimes dropped from seven in 2015 to four last year. Christians were victims of three hate crimes.
The most common targets of hate incidents were Latinos and Muslims. Muslims accounted for 35 percent of the incidents and Latinos were victims 18 percent of the time.
Most of the hate incidents occurred in public — about 33 percent of the time — with schools being second most frequent arena for racially charged conflicts at 24 percent, according to the commission.
The commission’s statistics will be published soon in an annual report.