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Hate crimes against Asian Americans in L.A. more than doubled last year, LAPD reports

A march in the street includes a row of people carrying a "Stop Asian Hate" banner.
Hundreds participated in a “Stop Asian Hate” rally in Koreatown last month.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles Police Department documented 15 hate crimes against Asian Americans in 2020, more than double the previous year, according to a new study by the agency.

The findings were included in a report submitted to the Police Commission this week that analyzed hate crimes and hate incidents against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in L.A. last year. Seven hate crimes were reported against Asian Americans in 2019 and nine the previous year.

The 15 hate crimes against Asian Americans last year accounted for 4.2% of 355 total hate crimes reported in 2020 and 8.1% of all hate crimes related to race, according to the report.

Of the hate crimes reported, nine were classified as battery, five as criminal threats or aggravated assault and one as a bomb threat made in an email to the Japanese American National Museum, according to the LAPD report.

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Suspects have not been identified in nine cases. The city attorney’s office declined to file charges in two cases due to insufficient evidence and is currently reviewing one case.

The L.A. County district attorney’s office also declined to file hate crime enhancements against a suspect facing other charges. And in two incidents, the victims, or in the case of a minor, their parents, declined to file charges.

Officials also documented nine hate incidents, or reports of actual or perceived bias that don’t rise to the level of crimes, against Asian Americans. Those accounted for 4.5% of 199 total hate incidents reported last year and 8% of all hate incidents related to race.

Anti-Asian harassment and violence have surged across the state and country since the beginning of the pandemic, with attacks often tied to the misconception that Asian Americans are to blame for the spread of the coronavirus. The virus was first identified in Wuhan, China.

In their analysis, officials noted “increasing hostility towards the Chinese community.” In six of the 24 hate crimes and incidents, the offenders mentioned the coronavirus. Seven other cases included anti-Chinese rhetoric.

Most hate crimes and incidents against Asians occurred in the LAPD’s West and Central bureaus. More than half took place on the street, sidewalk or outdoor parking lots. Several occurred in a store or market.

In one documented hate crime from March 2020, a woman was standing at a crosswalk in Mid-City when four people approached and said, “You coronavirus people. Look at these coronavirus.” One of the group then spat on her face, according to the LAPD.

In another reported hate crime from April 2020, a man was jogging in Mid-Wilshire when someone pulled up next to him in a car and told him to put on his mask. The jogger called him a moron, and the man responded by yelling an expletive, saying “Your people brought the coronavirus. Go back to your country!” He threw a glass bottle at the jogger, missing him.

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Males and females were almost evenly targeted in the hate crimes and incidents, according to the report. The reported races of the offenders included white, Black and Latino people.


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