Hate attacks in O.C. stayed at record-high levels last year, report says

Vanessa Nguyen, center, of Irvine, holds a Stop Asian Hate sign while joining community leaders praying.
Vanessa Nguyen holds a Stop Asian Hate sign during a candlelight vigil in Garden Grove mourning the victims of the March 2021 Atlanta spa shootings.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Hate crimes decreased in Orange County last year, while hate incidents — including hate speech and other nonviolent racial attacks — increased by 14%, according to a report released Thursday.

Taken together, hate crimes and hate incidents have increased by 165% from five years ago and 424% from 10 years ago, said the report by the O.C. Human Relations Commission.

During the pandemic, racially motivated attacks against Asian Americans have risen in cities around the country, fueled in part by former President Trump and others who have highlighted the coronavirus’ Chinese origins.


Hate-motivated attacks that did not rise to the level of a crime — known as hate incidents — increased by 69%, driven largely by an 19-fold increase in attacks on Asians.

Sept. 17, 2021

Of the 301 hate incidents and 97 hate crimes tallied in Orange County in 2021, 60% were motivated by a victim’s race, ethnicity or national origin. The total number of attacks in the two categories increased by 6% over 2020.

Hate incidents targeting Asian Americans increased by 164% in 2021 over the previous year, for a total of 153 incidents.

Ten hate crimes were reported against Asian Americans — a 43% increase.

“We like to talk about being ‘post-pandemic,’ but we are still very much in a pandemic,” said Julie Vo, policy director for the Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Community Alliance. “There’s a lot of continuing fear. I’m not surprised that we’re continuing to see these incidents.”

Last year in O.C., hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation increased by 83% to a total of 22.

Overall, hate crimes decreased by 13% from 2020.

“We have received many reports from community members about the hate that has been inflicted on them in their own home,” said Stephanie Camacho-Van Dyke, director of advocacy and education at the LGBTQ Center OC. “There’s more bullying of LGBTQ students that’s unfortunately on the rise at schools.”


Black people in Orange County continued to be disproportionately targeted, making up 2% of the population and 16% of hate crime victims in 2021.

Eight percent of hate incidents were anti-Black.

In one such encounter in January, a Black basketball player endured racist taunts of “Chain him up” and “He’s a monkey” from the stands during a game at Laguna Hills High School.

In Orange County racial taunts of students of color, particularly at sporting events, still happen with alarming regularity.

Feb. 8, 2022

“We should all be asking, ‘What’s going on?’” said Sara Sheikh-Arvizu, hate prevention coordinator for the O.C. Human Relations Commission, during an online presentation Thursday. “The work we all have to take responsibility for is to make meaning of the information that we share and address the roots of bias-motivated hate so that these trends stop being trends.”

The commission collects reports on hate crimes and hate incidents from individuals as well as law enforcement and organizations including the LGBTQ Center OC, Stop AAPI Hate and the Anti-Defamation League.

Hate attacks are probably underreported for reasons that include the trauma experienced by victims, fear of retaliation and lack of knowledge about where to go, the report said.

“Given the LGBTQ community’s historical relationship with the police, we do see that some of our community members don’t feel comfortable making a police report,” Camacho-Van Dyke said.

In December, the O.C. Board of Supervisors approved $1 million for the commission to combat hate attacks.

The money will go toward expanding language accessibility and ways to report hate attacks, more support for victims of hate and a countywide awareness campaign.