A SIGN? Swastikas are removed last year near Georgina Avenue and Seventh Street. (Photo by Kevin Herrera)

DOWNTOWN — Hate crimes in Los Angeles County increased 15 percent in 2011, ending a three-year streak of numbers trending downward, officials said.

In its report, the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations showed the numbers bumped up from 427 to 489 with increases in each of the main categories of hate crimes.

Both race-related and sexual orientation-related crimes rose 13 percent, and religion-motivated crimes grew by 24 percent. Hate crimes connected with white supremacy rose from 18 to 21 percent of all reported hate crimes.

Half of all hate crimes were racially-motivated, and African-Americans were targeted 60 percent of the time. The remainder is split between sexual orientation crimes at roughly 25 percent, religion-motivated crimes at 18 percent and white supremacy taking up the rest.

There were no hate-related murders in 2011, although there was a case in which gang members attempted to kill three African-Americans, according to the report.

Most of the crimes were concentrated in the San Fernando Valley, with the metro Los Angeles region from West Hollywood to Boyle Heights coming in second.

Even with the increase, the annual total is still the second lowest recorded in over two decades, according to the report.

The mixed bag left something to celebrate as well as a sobering warning, said Kathay Feng, president of the commission.

“While we are heartened by the relatively low numbers, we are alarmed that 21 percent of hate crimes show evidence of white supremacist ideology and 12 percent of hate crimes were committed by gang members,” Feng said. “This means that potentially a full third of hate crimes are committed by mission offenders who believe they are part of a larger cause to terrorize entire communities.”

Santa Monica had its own spate of hate crimes in 2011, particularly a rash of graffiti depicting swastikas, a symbol used by the Nazi Party and now synonymous with anti-Semitism.

The symbols appeared in the North of Montana Avenue neighborhood, home to some of Santa Monica’s wealthiest residents.

Of the 14 hate offenses recorded in 2011, 10 of them involved the swastikas. The remaining four were a robbery, a threat that involved a gun and two threatening phone calls, said Sgt. Richard Lewis, spokesman for the Santa Monica Police Department.

 

 

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