Eight hate crimes reported in Burbank, Glendale last year

A report issued by the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission on Wednesday found that the number of hate crimes reported countywide rose 15% last year after falling to a 21-year low in 2010.

The commission's annual study on hate crimes documented 489 such events in 2011 in L.A. County, up from 427 the previous year but far below a peak of 1,031 in 2001.

Eight hate crimes occurred in the Burbank-Glendale region last year, said Marshall Wong, a commission staff member who was the report's principal author.

Four of the hate crimes appeared to be motivated by racial or ethnic prejudice, with three of them targeting Armenians.

Three involved religious intolerance. Last year, a Jewish middle school student in the area reported feeling thoughts of suicide after being taunted by classmates with Nazi salutes and verbal and physical harassment, according to Wong.

One incident involved a 14-year-old boy who was kicked and punched in the face twice by a suspect who'd previously accused the victim of being gay.

The majority of the reported incidents in Glendale and Burbank last year included vandalism or graffiti. In a public park restroom, two swastikas and “KKK” were found spray-painted on the walls.

Early last year, profanity directed at Armenians was scratched into the side of a parked vehicle at a business. Seven months later, another vehicle had the same phrase etched into its side. A month later, another abusive phrase telling “Armenians go back to Armenia” was found written on a bus bench, Wong said.

In neighboring Northwest Pasadena in August 2011, 22 locations were tagged with swastikas and slurs against blacks and Latinos.

Nearly half of all 2011 hate crimes in Los Angeles County were racially motivated, with African Americans the most frequent targets, according to the report.

More than two-thirds of the 98 suspects identified in 154 hate crimes against black victims were Latino, and two-thirds of Latinos involved in hate crimes against black victims had gang affiliations. Of 39 anti-Latino hate crimes reported in 2011, 11 were committed by African American suspects, none of whom appeared to have gang ties.

Race-related hate crimes were more prevalent in L.A. County last year, but crimes motivated by a victim's perceived sexual orientation were more likely to involve violence, according to the report.

Religion-motivated crimes, the vast majority of them anti-Jewish, increased countywide from 76 in 2010 to 94 in 2011, accounting for 18% of hate crimes.

The Human Relations Commission has prepared annual hate crime reports since 1980 to aid crime prevention and help restore justice for victims, said commission President Kathay Feng.

“This report tells the stories of nameless, faceless victims of hate crimes,” Feng said. “Although the number of hate crimes committed in 2011 is among the lowest reported in the past two decades, we must continue our work.”

Already in Burbank, the number of reported hate crime incidents is on the upswing. Police there say eight such incidents have been reported so far this year, compared to five all of last year.



[FOR THE RECORD: This post has been updated from its original version.]

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