Despite a slight dip in the overall number of hate crimes reported statewide, the number of such targeted crimes in Los Angeles County increased last year, reaching its highest point in nearly a decade, according to an annual report by the L.A. County Commission on Human Relations.
Black and LGBTQ individuals were those most frequently targeted, the report shows. Of 521 recorded hate crimes in the county, more than half were racially motivated. Crimes targeting members of the LGBTQ community made up 24% of all hate crimes.
In 2017, a total number of 508 hate crimes were recorded in the county. There were 482 such incidents in 2016.
“The troubling rise of these acts of hate must be met with unwavering condemnation,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis said in a statement. “We must come together in solidarity to combat racism and bigotry head-on.”
Before a July report by the state’s attorney general, which showed hate crimes had dipped by 2.5% in 2018, such crimes in the state had increased for three straight years.
Even with the overall drop, however, crimes against Jews and Latinos in California surged by 21% and 18%, respectively.
Experts have said the increase can be linked to President Trump’s vitriolic rhetoric toward minorities and the resurgence of hate groups across the state.
Local data seem to align with the public’s perception that hate crimes have increased following the rise of white nationalism and news events such as the El Paso shooting, which left 22 people dead. Authorities say the gunman in that attack admitted he had targeted Mexicans.
In Los Angeles County, crimes against Latinos rose 16% last year, the fourth year in a row.
African Americans, who make up just 9% of the county’s population, were targeted in 52% of all hate crime in the county.
According to the report, 53% of hate crimes against blacks were committed by Latinos, while the same percentage of hate crimes against Latinos were committed by African Americans.
Among the assailants the data identify are Latino street gangs with ties to the Mexican Mafia, a violent prison gang that has been feuding with black inmates for decades. The Latino gang members are encouraged to run African Americans out of their neighborhoods.
Besides racial and sexual-orientation hate crimes, the report included religious-based crimes. Anti-Semitic incidents made up the majority of crimes targeting members of a religious group in the county, although the overall number of such crimes dropped.
And though crimes against transgender people also declined after two years of record highs, 92% of all crimes against transgender individuals were violent, according to the report. African Americans were disproportionately the targets of homophobic and anti-trans crimes.
“We are truly alarmed at the continued over-representation of African Americans in racial, sexual-orientation and anti-transgender hate crimes,” Jarrett Barrios, president of the Commission on Human Relations, said in the statement. “The continued growth of anti-Latino crimes and frequent use of anti-immigrant language is of grave concern given the recent mass shooting in El Paso.”