LOS ANGELES – Reported hate crimes in Los Angeles County increased by 1 percent in 2014 from the previous year, marking the second-lowest total in 25 years, the county Commission on Human Relations announced.
According to its annual report — which defines a hate crime as one in which hatred or prejudice toward a victim’s race or ethnicity, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation was a substantial factor — there were 389 reported hate crimes countywide last year, an increase of five cases from 2013, which had the lowest reported cases in 25 years.
The largest number of hate crimes, 86, took place in the Metro area, which stretches from West Hollywood to Boyle Heights. But if one compares the population of the regions to the number of reported hate crimes, the Metro area had the highest rate followed by the Antelope Valley.
The Antelope Valley – including Lancaster, Palmdale, Quartz Hill, Littlerock, Lake Los Angeles, Acton and Gorman – reported 22 hate crimes in 2014, or 5.9 hate crimes per 100,000 residents, according to the report. The local numbers have declined from 2013, when the Antelope Valley reported 6.2 hate crimes per 100,000 residents – the largest number of hate crimes per capita in L.A. County.
Similar to past years, four groups represented the bulk of victims of hate crimes countywide, with 86 percent of them being either black, lesbian women/gay men, Jewish or Latino. However, two groups documented in the report saw dramatic increases: crimes targeting gay men grew 31 percent from 70 to 108, and anti-Jewish crimes rose 31 percent from 42 in 2013 to 55 last year.
“It is disturbing that the trend of declining anti-Jewish hate crimes reversed itself this past year, both around the country and in LA County,” stated Amanda Susskind, the Pacific Southwest regional director of the Anti- Defamation League. “As we see across the country, some of this increase was due to the spate of hate crimes during the conflict between Hamas and Israel during the summer of 2014.”
The peak of hate crimes reported in the county was in 2001, when the post September 11th period led to anti-Muslim/Middle Easterner hate crimes, which boosted the county total to its zenith: 1,031 hate crimes.
“Hate crime is not just a law enforcement matter,” L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said in a news release. “The decrease in hate crimes over the past seven years is the result of a community-wide effort.”
Officials said that while the number of social media-related hate crimes remained low, there remains the problem of racial hate speech on the Internet.
The commission’s report was generated from data collected from sheriff and city police departments, school districts and community groups. Read the full report here.
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