A national survey by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that less than half of all hate crimes were reported to the police. Factors that may inhibit victims from reporting hate crimes include fear of retaliation, cultural and linguistic isolation, unfamiliarity with the criminal justice system, and previous negative experiences with law enforcement.
Locally, the LAPD defines hate crimes as “any criminal act or attempted criminal act directed against a person or persons based on the victim’s actual or perceived race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, disability or gender.”
More than 42 percent of racial hate crimes targeted African-Americans. Black persons constitute 9 percent of the total population of Los Angeles County, but each year are grossly overrepresented as victims of racial hate crime. The most common criminal offense was vandalism (27 percent), followed by aggravated assault (25 percent), simple assault (20 percent), intimidation (17 percent), and disorderly conduct (7 percent).
African-Americans were again also over-represented as victims of sexual orientation (19 percent) and anti-transgender crimes (28 percent).
Crimes targeting African-Americans occurred most often in public places, followed by businesses, residences, schools, electronic communication, and government/public buildings).
Victims of a hate crime should call 9-1-1, or go to the nearest LAPD community police station. By understanding how and where hate is occurring, communities can respond with appropriate resources and support, which can include protecting your civil rights against hate and discrimination, processing trauma, beginning to heal, and doing something to prevent hate from happening to others.
It is essential to report a hate incident, which includes any act of verbal or physical aggression, refusal of service, bullying, or intimidation of any kind that is motivated by hostile prejudice.
For those who have been victims of bullying or a hate motivated act, by dialing 2-1-1, they can now file a report as a victim, witness, or advocate for a victim of hate crimes, hate acts, or bullying as a part of the Anti-Hate Campaign.
Since 1980, the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations has compiled, analyzed, and produced an annual report of hate crime data submitted by sheriff and city police agencies, educational institutions, and community-based organizations. This report is one of the longest-standing efforts in the nation to document hate crime.
There were 635 hate crimes reported in the County in 2020, a 20 percent increase from the previous year. According to the commission, there was explicit evidence of White supremacist ideology in 19 percent of all hate crimes.
According to Southern Poverty Law Center President and CEO Margaret Huang, steps need to be taken to stem the rise of hate crimes:
“We must fund prevention initiatives to steer individuals away from hate and ideologically motivated violence,” Huang said. “Stopping extremism in our country must be a holistic effort involving not just law enforcement, but also parents, caregivers and educators.
“We must ensure that everyone – and especially young people – are taught critical thinking skills and digital literacy so they can fend off misinformation, disinformation and online radicalization,” she added.
This article is a part of a series of articles for Our Weekly’s #StopTheHate campaign and is supported in whole or part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library. #NoPlaceForHateCA,