Hate crime in Los Angeles County rose 32 percent between 2013 and 2017, according to the county’s Commission on Human Relations.
Experts discussed local, state and national hate crime data at a Thursday hearing hosted by California State Assemblymember Richard Bloom, who represents Santa Monica.
Marshall Wong, a specialist on hate crimes, said hate crimes such as vandalism and assaults have been creeping up since reaching a record low in 2013. 508 were reported in 2017, but a survey by Loyola Marymount University suggests that far more Angelenos are victims of hate crimes and don’t report them, said Brianne Gilbert, associate director of Loyola Marymount University’s Center for the Study of Los Angeles.
More than 2,000 people take the quality of life survey each year, the largest survey of any metropolitan area in the United States, and 11 percent said they or someone in their household had been a victim of a hate crime in 2018. Among LGBTQ+ respondents, that proportion reached 27 percent.
“The overwhelming majority of the groups orchestrating these attacks subscribe to the ideas of white supremacy, and a number have emerged since the presidential election of 2016,” Bloom said. “California, a state well-known for its diversity and equal rights protection laws, ironically is home to more hate groups than any other state in the nation.”
More white supremacist propaganda is distributed in California than any other state, said Joanna Mendelson, an investigative researcher with the Anti-Defamation League.
National data shows that white supremacist attacks are at a peak, she said. Many white supremacists are being radicalized online through memes shared on message boards 4chan and 8chan, as well as Discord, a chat website for gamers. They spread the idea that whites are being supplanted by people of color in a scheme orchestrated by Jews, Mendelson said.
Anti-Semitic assaults doubled between 2017 and 2018 and total anti-Semitic incidents were the third-highest in a single year since the ADL began tracking such data in the 1970s.
“Things have never been so bad,” she said.
In Los Angeles County, most hate crimes occur in central Los Angeles, followed by the San Fernando Valley, while the regions with the highest hate crimes per capita are central Los Angeles and the Westside. The San Gabriel Valley and the eastern part of the county report the lowest rate of hate crimes because they are more racially and religiously homogenous, Wong said.
Most victims of racial hate crimes in the county are African Americans and most victims of religious hate crimes are Jewish, Wong said. Gay men and transgender women make up the majority of hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender.
African Americans comprise eight to nine percent of the county’s population but half of racial hate crime victims, he said.
“One of the things that drives that that we don’t see in other parts of the country are a number of Latino street gangs that are affiliated with the Mexican mafia, which is the largest and most violent of the prison-based gangs,” Wong said. “They’ve given orders to their street affiliates to try to drive Blacks out of their neighborhoods, so we’ve seen acts of arson and broad daylight shootings and these gangs carry out, literally, ethnic cleansing.”
According to the LMU survey, 14 percent of Black residents, 12 percent of Latino residents, nine percent of white residents and six percent of Asian residents said they were a victim of a hate crime. Younger groups were far more likely to report experiencing hate crimes than older groups. 17 percent of people who consider themselves upper class said they experienced a hate crime, compared to eight percent of middle-class respondents and 10 percent of lower-class respondents.
73 percent of respondents said they felt racial and ethnic groups in Los Angeles were getting along, compared to 77 percent in 2017 and a low of 48 percent in 2007.