California Reports Double-Digit Rise in Hate Crimes

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – The number of hate crimes committed in California jumped 11 percent in 2016, including increases in attacks against black people and members of the LGTBQ community, state officials reported Monday.

According to an annual report by the California Department of Justice, there were 251 hate crimes reported against black people in 2016, up 8.7 percent from the previous year. Hate crimes against Latinos jumped to 83, while 56 events against Caucasians were reported.

The Golden State experienced a double-digit increase in total hate crimes for the second consecutive year, according to hate-crime data compiled from prosecutors and law enforcement agencies.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the report follows an “unsettling” national uptick of race and religious-related crimes.

“When someone commits a crime motivated by hate, it is not just an attack on one innocent person, but an attack on the entire state and our communities,” Becerra said in a statement. “We can see from today’s report that words matter, and discriminatory rhetoric does not make us stronger but divides us and puts the safety of our communities at risk.”

The report found hate crime events involving a racial basis increased 21.3 percent, from 428 in 2015 to 519 in 2016. Hate crimes against black people are the most common, accounting for 31 percent of all hate crimes reported since 2007.

California tallies one hate crime per occurrence, regardless of the number of victims involved. The most commonly reported offenses included vandalism, intimidation and simple assault.

Los Angeles County reported the most hate crimes with 375 incidents, along with 84 reported in San Diego County.

According to the state Department of Justice’s 40-page report, sexual orientation-bias events are the second most common type of reported hate crimes in the state, accounting for 22 percent of incidents reported in 2016. There were 152 reported events against gay men – a staggering 40 percent increase from 2015 – and 25 crimes against transgender people.

Meanwhile religious-bias events totaled 18 percent, including 82 anti-Semitic and 37 anti-Islamic attacks in 2016.

California’s report follows a June 30 study by the nonpartisan Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, which detailed dramatic increases in the number of hate crimes in four major U.S. cities so far in 2017. Chicago registered a 160 percent increase, while hate crimes jumped roughly 40 percent in New York and Los Angeles.

California’s hate-crime report did not offer an explanation or speculate on the reasons for the recent increase. Since 2007, hate crimes in California have dropped 34 percent.

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