Reported hate crimes in Orange County numbered 44 last year — up from 40 such crimes reported in 2014, according to a county watchdog commission.
The increase mirrors a national trend in the establishment of what the OC Human Relations Commission deemed “hate groups.”
The commission cited a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center that showed “hate crime groups” grew by 14
percent in 2015. During that period, membership in the Ku Klux Klan grew by 64 percent.
Hate crimes in Orange County directed at gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people went up from eight in 2014 to 11 last year, according to the commission.
Seven of those hate crimes targeted the victims based on their sexual orientation and four were against transgender people, the commission reported.
Black residents were the targets of seven hate crime reports last year, which was down from 11 incidents in 2014.
That represents a four-year trend downward from 23 in 2011.
There were seven hate crimes reported against Jews, up one from six in 2014.
Hate crimes against those of Asian or Pacific Island descent remained at three last year, the same as 2014. Hate crimes against Latinos went down from 3 to 2 from 2014 to last year.
There were two hate crimes directed at Christians and Muslims, up from one in 2014.
The commission offered some examples. A female employee at one company was punched in the face by a customer when she helped another customer with the attacker yelling, “Hispanics should not work here,” and “You are Saudi Arabian.”
In another case, a gay man found threatening notes on his car on separate occasions, saying, “We don’t want (expletive for homosexuals) in our neighborhood.” A hate crime happened when the third note included a “liquid substance” that caused damage to the car.
So-called “hate incidents,” which do not include a crime, shot up from 14 in 2014 to 43 last year, the commission reported. Most of those incidents were directed at Muslims and Sikhs.
The incidents spiked up following the mass shooting in San Bernardino and terrorist attacks in Paris in November. Thirty-seven of the 43 incidents were reported after those attacks.
The owner of an Islamic clothing store found a bullet-ridden Koran on her front door, and in another case the customer of a grocery store found a note on her car that said, “(Expletive) Allah, go back to Iran!!!”