LA County Hate Crimes Rise Again
By Dianne Anderson
Black people once more are taking the brunt of racist attacks and incidents at two to four times higher than all other groups in Los Angeles County, topping the charts at an alarming rate of hatred not seen in 19 years.
Community leaders came together last week to discuss the recent Los Angeles County Hate Crime report, and how to mitigate the rise in hate and threat of victimizations. According to the data, hate crime grew countywide by 23% from 641 to 786 in 2021, the largest number recorded since 2002.
Ian Davidson, chair and president of the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, opened the webinar with remarks on mass shootings this year, including Colorado Springs where five were killed five and 18 others wounded in the LBGTQ community.
“Earlier this year, a man was charged with opening fire at a Buffalo supermarket shooting, killing 10 African Americans and wounding three more. Closer to home, we are seeing multiple reports of anti-Semitic literature distributed throughout the county…We continue to see Asian Americans attacked and blamed by their assailants for the pandemic,” he said.
On the prevention side, Karen Mack, also Co-Chair of LA County’s Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative, commended the county’s LA versus Hate initiative as a dynamic model.
She stressed the importance of community engagement in the arts to spur dialogue.
Her organization, the South LA-based nonprofit LA Commons, has developed curriculum to address hate. She said the impact against the Black community spans many areas from housing to education to environmental justice.
“We are also working on another front to specifically address anti-Black with the anti-Black racism that is so deeply embedded in every aspect of our lives,” she said, adding, “It is our hope that we can move to a positive narrative that counters the negative one that has been perpetuated against Black people since the first slaves arrived on American shores.”
Initially, state funding was approved by Gov. Newsom as part of $156 million funding to address anti-Asian hate over a three-year period, the result of legislation proposed by the Asian Pacific Legislative Caucus. Asians also experienced a sharp increase in hate crimes.
At the state level, the pattern of anti-Black hate events eclipses all other victims. Earlier this year, California Attorney General Rob Bonta also released their 2021 hate crime report, citing that of the 1,763 bias events in 2021, Blacks were the main target with a 179% increase from 456 incidents in 2020 to 513 in 2021.
For LA County, Blacks were the hardest hit.
“Although they only comprise about 9% of the county’s population, African Americans were again the largest group of hate crime victims,” the 2021 report said. “Anti-black hate crimes rose 30% from 169 to 219 and African Americans comprised 46% of racial hate crime victims. African Americans were also disproportionately represented as victims of sexual orientation and anti-transgender crimes.”
Anti-Asian bias also jumped 177.5 in that period, from 89 in 2020 to 247 incidents. Anti-Hispanic or Latino bias events increased by 29.6% from 152 in 2020 to 197. Anti-Jewish bias events increased 32.2% from 115 in 2020 to 152. In the year ending 2021, hate crime charges increased by 30.1%.
The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors reports that their LavsHate.org website was shared over 180 million times since launched in June 2020. Between the L.A. vs Hate initiative and 211 calls, over 1,900 reports have been taken with 90% of callers receiving help via case management.
Last March, Gov. Newsom also announced partnership with the Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs and the California Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus to distribute $14 million in grant funds to qualified organizations to address hate incidents and prevention. In July, another $30 million grant came down as part of funding approved by Gov. Newsom, rolled out to 12 community-based organizations to fight hate crime, survivor services and prevention.
Behind the hate, Expert Dr. Lindsay Perez Huber finds one definite connection to political rhetoric following Trump’s 2015 presidential bid.
“We started hearing things on the news [of] targeting immigrant communities and Latinos. That’s where we see the beginnings of what’s currently happening in terms of racist political discourses has impacted communities of color,” said Dr. Huber, a professor in the Social and Cultural Analysis of Education, master’s program in the College of Education at California State University, Long Beach.
From then on, Latinos, the immigrant community and communities of color were frequent headliners of attacks, a trend throughout the presidential campaign after the election when the Southern Poverty Law Center reported an exponential increase in hate crime.
But she stressed how racist rhetoric to strengthen the voter base is part of the larger historical narrative, including George H.W. Bush’s infamous 1988 Willie Horton ad to scare white voters against Blacks, and former Gov. Pete Wilson’s scapegoating Mexican immigrants by supporting Proposition 187 and anti-affirmative action.
Huber said that while nothing is funny about hate, she points to a CNN interview with Dave Chappelle on whether the Trump Administration provided fodder for comedians.
“Chappelle said Trump didn’t create this, he’s just surfing the wave,” Dr. Huber said. “So Trump in some ways is really just surfing the wave of racism and white supremacy that has existed in this country since its inception.”
As a political figure, she said Trump made racist beliefs acceptable, resulting in crimes targeted against people of color and others, which she sees spilling over into schools.
“Everyday experiences of racism of anti-Blackness of white supremacy is important because over the course of our lifetimes there are many people of color [facing] everyday forms of racism. The comments, the slights, the looks,” said Dr. Huber, also the author of Racial Microaggressions Using Critical Race Theory to Respond to Everyday Racism.
Huber’s research is on racial microaggressions and hate crime, and she said it’s critical to document the experiences of those targeted by overt acts of violence and discrimination. In fields of education, leaders must address the experiences early on.
“How do we create strategies to disrupt them so they don’t accumulate and turn into large-scale violent and overtly discriminatory acts?” she said.
As a professor at CSULB for 12 years, she teaches the impacts of racist rhetoric on K-12 schools and higher education, hostile learning environments of racial microaggressions, and bullying and violence against students of color. She recalled when Trump began his election campaign, students were talking to her about white nationalist flyers cropping up around campus.
Some in their multi-cultural center received death threats a few years back, and some students on social media.
“There’s been multiple [microaggression] incidents here on campus at CSULB. It’s something we are talking about right now because of increased targeting of students and I think staff and faculty are being targeted because of race, gender, class, sexuality,” she said.
At last available federal data, the U.S. Department of Justice reports that on average, U.S. residents experienced approximately 246,900 hate crime victimizations each year between 2005 and 2019, with race, ethnicity or ancestry bias, accounting for most (about 54%) hate crimes recorded by law enforcement from 2010 to 2019.
“During the 5 year period of 2015-19, nearly half (49%) of these incidents were motivated by anti-black or anti-African American bias. During that same time period, law enforcement recorded increases in the number of hate crime victims of black or African-American (from 2,201 to 2,391 victims), Asian (from 136 to 215) and Arab descent (from 48 to 126),” the DOJ reports.
In Long Beach, the nonprofit California Conference for Equality and Justice is one of several partners with the LA Versus Hate Rapid Response Network, which is led by the LA County Human Relations Commission.
Daniel Solis said CCEJ has worked for over 40 years to address hate and prevention by starting at the middle and high school level, focused on anti-bias and leadership on campuses.
They respond to hate incidents based on restorative justice work through juvenile diversion, receiving referrals from the Long Beach Police Department and District Attorney’s office to review various cases, including gender identity, race bias. And, for example, burglary charges targeting a business or specific sexual or religious identity targeting.
“We facilitate a process with the young people that they’ve attacked or harmed,” he said. “It’s one way that we’ve been responding help with learning accountability, but also not shuffling people into the criminal system.”
Another aspect of outreach with the students, of those bullied or those doing the bullying, is that bullies grow into adults. He said the outreach helps reset the hate narrative.
“Maybe when they are adults these things don’t feel so okay to do, or if they do see them [hate incidents], they’ll intervene,” he said.
Reporting as a process has probably gotten better recently by law enforcement, but at the same time, one big complaint is that there is no uniform way of reporting hate crimes.
Reporting depends on the officers that get sent out, or if they believe who they are interviewing, who is hearing the complaint, and how seriously they are taking it.
“Sometimes there also might be bias, they might be hearing from a Black person that this is racially motivated and they do not believe it, they might report it as a simple assault. That’s part of the complexity because it is subjective reporting,” he said.
In some ways, his organization sees how conversations are opening up. Young people are becoming more fluent in talking about hate crime, and they are starting to hold the school administration accountable.
There is progress. Hate is not being normalized as it has been in the past.
“They are open to understanding when something doesn’t feel right, they expect that something has to be done to address it. I think that’s a shift even in the past few years. They [say] what are you going to do?” he said.
To see the LA County 2021 Hate Crimes Report,
To see the state hate crimes report, see
To see the national USDOJ hate crimes report,
For more information, or to file hate crimes, see LavsHate.org
Or, see https://211la.org/la-vs-hate
To learn more on CCEJ, see https://www.cacej.org or call CACEJ at (562) 435-8184