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California

With hate crimes rising, L.A. law enforcement vows to crack down

Los Angeles law enforcement leaders

Los Angeles Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey, City Atty. Mike Feuer, center, and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck speak about an increase in hate crimes.

(James Queally / Los Angeles Times)

As hate crimes surge in California and across the country, Los Angeles law enforcement leaders came together Wednesday to promise they will not let the city fall victim to fear.

Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey spoke about the wide-ranging effects that bias crimes can have on the city and county, urging victims of crimes with a racial or religious motive to come forward immediately.

Hate crimes are often underreported. Feuer said victims should not fear speaking to police because of their immigration status.

“Acts of hate tear at the fabric of who we are as a nation, and we want to send a strong message that no one should be reluctant or afraid to report a hate crime,” he said. “None of us is ever going to re-victimize someone who is either a victim or a witness of a hate crime.”

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Hate crimes surged in California and across the nation last year, and a spate of bias incidents that followed Donald Trump’s victory on election day have also drawn serious concerns from police and human rights activists.

Beck said hate crimes have increased in Los Angeles by 19% compared with last year, and the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations reported a 24% increase in bias crimes in 2015. The 483 reported hate crimes in the county marked the largest total since 2011, according to the commission. 

Bias crimes rose by 7% across the U.S. in 2015, according to FBI data, and crimes deemed “anti-Muslim” rocketed up by nearly 67%. There were 257 reported bias crimes against Muslims last year, compared with 154 in 2014. 

Beck did not blame the local increase on any particular group, despite concerns that the recent election cycle has mobilized fringe white separatist and nationalist groups.

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Hate crimes, Beck said, need to be combated swiftly because of the outsize effect they can have on communities that are victimized. 

“The fear of other is very, very strong in humanity. ... This cannot stand,” he said. “This cannot be something we allow as a people.”

james.queally@latimes.com

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for crime and police news in California.

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