The number of reported hate crimes in Los Angeles County increased by only one in 2019, bringing that year’s total to 524 incidents according to a report from the county’s Commission on Human Relations.
The report said such crimes have been rising incrementally in the last several years. Reported hate crimes in Los Angeles County rose 36% between 2013 and 2019. However, this year’s total is much lower than that in 2001, when more than 1,000 incidents were reported.
A hate crime is defined as a crime, typically one involving violence, that is motivated by prejudice on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, or other grounds. While the overall number of such crimes barely increased from 2018 to 2019, the overall rate of reported hate-motivated violent crimes in Los Angeles County increased from 61% to 65%, the highest percentage reported since 2007.
In 2019, racially motivated crimes remained the largest category, making up 49% of all hate crimes. The county stated that while African Americans only comprise 9% of L.A. County residents they make up 47% of racial hate crime victims. African Americans were also the majority of victims of sexual orientation and anti-transgender crimes.
Latino residents represented 25% of reported racial hate crime victims and were the most likely racial/ethnic group to report violent racially motivated crime. Anti-immigrant slurs were used in 48% of anti-Latino attacks. This is the second-largest number of crimes reported with such slurs since the report started tracking xenophobic slurs in 2001.
Crimes targeting Asians and Pacific Islanders increased 32%. Commission members and representatives at the meeting at which the report was presented pointed to widespread blaming of the COVID-19 pandemic on people perceived to be Chinese as the instigator of such hate crimes. Crimes described as anti-Middle Eastern rose from 7 to 17, an increase of 143%.
Anti-transgender crimes rose 64% from 25 to 41, the largest number ever reported. The rate of violence was the highest of any victim group at 92%. Crimes targeting gay men, lesbians and LGBT organizations comprised 19% of all reported hate crimes, and 79% of these crimes were violent, the report stated.
Religious crimes rose 11% and made up 19% of all hate crimes, and 89% of these crimes targeted the Jewish community, an 8% increase.
In 2019, 75% of reported racial hate crimes and 32% of religious hate crimes were violent.
The largest number of reported hate crimes took place in the Metro Service Planning Area, which stretches from West Hollywood to Boyle Heights, followed by the San Fernando Valley region, the report stated.
The county has a hotline (dial 211) to report acts of hate and secure help for victims.