REPORT: A dozen hate crimes in the SCV last year

At least a dozen hate crimes took place in the Santa Clarita Valley last year, with close to half of them over religion, followed closely by those directed at race, according to the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations which released its annual report Thursday. Each year, the commission releases its account of hate crimes reported throughout Los Angeles County in 2016. There were 482 hate crimes reported across the county last year, only one less than 2015, The commission found three hate crimes motivated by the victims’ disabilities in 2016, compared to none the previous year. One of those cases happened in the SCV. “Similar to anti-female crimes, reports of disability hate crimes are rare and tend to have multiple motivations, usually disability and race,” the commissioners wrote in their report. Under the heading – “Actual Disability Hate Crimes January 20, Santa Clarita” – the commission described the local hate crime directed at someone with a disability. “At a high school a Latino student called a learning disabled black student, a ‘retarded n—–.’ “The suspect punched the victim in the mouth, face, head and stomach. After the victim was knocked to the ground the suspect continued hitting him and called him “n—–” several more times. “Other students pulled the suspect away from the victim until school officials arrived. The suspect was arrested and booked. Of the dozen hate crimes reported to have happened in the SCV, five were directed at religion, four at race, and one each at sexual orientation, gender and disability. Each of the five religious hate crimes happened on the west side of SCV while hate crimes directed at sexual orientation and disability happened on the east side. And, while the number of hate crimes across the county stayed relatively the same, commissioners reported seeing a couple of disturbing trends across the county.   The report’s significant findings include:  There were 482 hate crimes reported, only one less than 2015, which saw a 24 percent increase from the previous year and reached the highest total since 2011. By comparison, the California Attorney General’s office reported an 11.2 percent statewide increase in hate crime in 2016.  For the first time in many years, the largest targeted group for hate crime were gay men, lesbians and LGBT – lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender – organizations, surpassing anti-African American hate crimes. The 118 homophobic hate crimes also had a high rate of violence at 81 percent. These included one murder of a gay man shot to death by his father, who has since been convicted of the homicide and the hate crime.  Hate crimes in which there was evidence of white supremacist ideology grew 67 percent from 63 to 105, constituting 22 percent of all hate crimes.  Anti-African American crimes dropped by 19 percent, from 139 to 112, partly due to a drop in the number of hate crimes by Latino gang members targeting African Americans.  During the post-2016 presidential election period – Nov. 8 through Dec. 31, 2016 – hate crimes increased 9 percent, from 75 to 82. It’s important to note that the 75 crimes during the same period in 2015 represented a sharp 47 percent increase from the previous year, due to the rise in anti-Muslim/Middle Eastern hate crimes following the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.  Gender-based crimes spiked by 77 percent, from 22 to 39. Most of these were anti-transgender crimes which jumped from 18 to 31, a 72 percent increase. Latina transgender women were targeted the most.  There were 101 religious hate crimes in 2016, with two-thirds targeting the Jewish community.  After jumping 69 percent in 2015, anti-Latino crimes increased slightly in 2016, from 61 to 62. 77 percent of them were violent.  Anti-white crimes jumped from 11 to 27, a 145 percent rise. Whites comprised 11 percent of racial hate crime victims, but are about 27 percent of the county population.  Youth (under 18) continue to decline as suspects of hate crimes in LA County. From 2006 to 2016, youth have gone from the largest age group of hate crime suspects, to the smallest.  In addition to those referenced above, county residents of diverse backgrounds were targeted for hate crime in 2016, including Armenians, Chinese, Asian/Pacific Islander, persons with mental disabilities, persons with physical disabilities, Scientologists, Afghans, Africans, Iranians, Iraqis, Japanese, and Koreans. Hate crimes occurred throughout Los Angeles County, but the largest number took place in the San Fernando Valley, followed by the Metro region that stretches from West Hollywood to Boyle Heights. The highest rate of hate crimes occurred in the Metro region, followed by the western part of the county that includes a number of affluent cities. “At the Board of Supervisors, we are leading the effort to combat Islamophobia, homophobia, and hatred against immigrants – and we are best able to accomplish these goals by having concrete reporting and data,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis. The commission’s Executive Director Robin Toma said: “We are extremely concerned that reported hate crimes remained at an elevated level in 2016. And major cities across the country, including the city of Los Angeles, have already reported increases in hate crime during the first half of 2017.” The commission’s President Isabelle Gunning said: “The fact that white supremacist crimes grew 67 percent is alarming, particularly in the aftermath of the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville. It seems that organized hate groups everywhere are feeling emboldened and increasingly visible. [email protected] 661-287-5527 on Twitter @jamesarthurholt  

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