CITY WIDE— Hate crimes dropped to 12 in 2012 from 14 the year before, Santa Monica police said.

Los Angeles County also saw a 6 percent drop in hate crimes from 489 to 462, the second lowest in 23 years according to a report released last week by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations.

In 2012, Santa Monica’s rate of 13.8 hate crimes per 100,000 residents was triple the county average. In 2011, the rate was close to four times the county average. It should be noted that as a resort town the number of people in Santa Monica regularly swells beyond the official population. Santa Monica also has a large homeless population, which is often unaccounted for.

The 2011 Santa Monica numbers reflect a rash of swastika graffiti perpetrated by a single individual. Ten of the 14 offenses resulted from the graffiti, but even if all were combined into one offense Santa Monica’s average would still have been above the county’s.

Despite its high average, Amanda Susskind, regional director of the Los Angeles Anti-Defamation League, said that Santa Monica is not typically problematic.

“Santa Monica is not considered a hot spot, but it isn’t immune either,” she said.

She could not recall any recent incidents in Santa Monica, but she did recall a few high-profile 2011 cases that were not classified as hate crimes, including one in which Santa Monica High School wrestlers allegedly put a noose on a wrestling dummy and then chained a black teammate to a locker before making a racial slur.

She also mentioned the Chabad House bombing, although it’s unclear if the motive of the now-deceased alleged bomber, Ron Hirsch, was anti-Semitic in nature. Hirsch, who was homeless, allegedly set off a pipe bomb injuring no one.

Susskind lauded the way that the school board, City Council, and police department handle hate-related issues in Santa Monica.

Countywide, there was an increase in the rates of violent hate crimes, according to the county report.

In March of last year in Santa Monica, two white males beat a Latino male in the face and wrist with a baseball bat after calling him a racial epithet, according to the report. The man fell to the ground and was taken to a hospital by relatives.

Countywide, crimes based on a victim’s gender identity rose slightly in 2012, from 13 to 14.

In October of last year in Santa Monica, a transgender woman found that someone had scratched her car and broken her sideview mirror. The perpetrator left a threatening note laced with homophobic slurs.

Santa Monica police did not provide information about specific 2012 hate crime cases. Information was provided by the county report.

 

dave@smdp.com

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