O.C. hate crimes see big increase in 2022, commission reports
Hate crimes took a big jump in Orange County in 2022 compared to the prior year, with a surge of racist activity seen in county schools, according to an annual report released Thursday by the OC Human Relations Commission.
“There’s been a big increase in reports from schools,” Alison Edwards, chief executive of the commission, which has rebranded as Groundswell, told City News Service.
“We can say anecdotally it is in line from what we’ve heard from schools,” Edwards said. “They have shared concerns, including racial slurs on campus, so we do see that reflected in the report.”
Edwards said a study last year showed that “the polarizing and vitriolic speech of adults is impacting young people and they’re mimicking it, and that translates to school campuses.”
The report found a 67% increase in hate crimes in 2022 over the previous year, while hate incidents — which fall short of a crime — dropped by 4%. Over the past five years, there was a 75% increase in hate crimes and 142% increase in hate incidents, according to the report.
“We continue to see Black and Jewish communities targeted, but given the national rhetoric around the LGBQT community we’re not surprised to see a 126% increase (from 2021-22) that targets that community,” Edwards said.
“It’s important to note that the county continues to support tracking this information. We really hope the leaders across our community will continue to speak out against hate and support these communities who are increasingly targeted here and elsewhere.”
The report noted a 178% increase in bigotry in schools compared to 2021.
Of the hate crimes reported in the county in 2021, 53% targeted a victim based on race, ethnicity and national origin. In 32% of the cases, the motivation was religion, and in 15% of cases it was sexual orientation.
Of the race-based hate crimes, 52% of the victims were Black, indigenous or a person of color, according to the report. In 43% of the cases, antisemitism motivated the attack, and 34% of the time it was anti-Christian. In 19% of the cases it was anti-Latino.
The top reported crimes included graffiti or vandalism, 41%, physical assault, 19%, and threats 17%.
The vast majority of the hate crimes offenders are men at 85%, which breaks down to 73 men and 13 women.
In 64 of the reports in which the age of the attacker was known the age range was 26 to 40. In 97 of the reports in which the race was known, the attacker was white 46% of the time and Latino in 36% of the cases.
According to the report, the number of hate crimes jumped from 97 in 2021 to 162 last year, a 67% increase. Race-related crimes increased 78%, religious-based attacks increased 193%, sexual-orientation offenses increased 24%, anti-Black assaults soared up 138%, and anti-Latino attacks doubled.
Hate incidents in which a crime was not committed decreased from 301 in 2021 to 288 last year, a 4% decrease, but the incidents on school campuses jumped from 41 to 103, a 151% increase.
Race-based incidents increased from 113 to 158, 40%. Religion-based bias decreased from 86 to 77, down 10%. Sexual-orientation incidents jumped from 18 to 47, a 161% increase. Incidents online increased from 7 to 25.
Of the school-based incidents, six were in elementary schools, 50 were on middle school and junior high campuses, 32 were at high schools, five were on college campuses and 10 were unknown.
The Orange County district attorney’s office reported that 37 hate crime cases were referred for prosecution, and charges were filed in 16.
“Nineteen of the cases were rejected for hate crimes and either non-hate crime charges were filed or the case was rejected entirely due to insufficient evidence to prove a crime occurred beyond a reasonable doubt,”
Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer said in the report, “Two others were being reviewed at the time of this report’s publishing deadline.”
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