L.A. County anti-Asian hate crimes see 76% increase in 2020

SCV Sheriff's Station deputies interview witnesses at a Starbucks in Valencia on Aug. 20, 2020. Dan Watson/ The Signal

The total number of anti-Asian hate crimes within Los Angeles County rose 76% in 2020, according to a report released Wednesday.  

The L.A. County Commission on Human Relations said the number of anti-Asian hate crimes had increased from 25 in 2019 to 44 in 2020 around the county.  

A total of two of the 44 crimes had occurred within the Santa Clarita Valley, according to the Commission’s Report. However, officials at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station could only find one crime fitting that description for the 2020 calendar year.  

Officials from the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations could not be reached for comment to clarify the discrepancy as of the publication of this article.  

In the instance recorded by the sheriff’s station, two Hispanic brothers — aged 60 and 68 — reportedly attacked an Asian man for “not wearing a face mask in public” on Aug. 20, 2020, at a Starbucks on Valencia Boulevard. 

“(One of the suspects) yelled at him, ‘Stop eating bats,’” then referred to the man using a racial slur before threatening to “shove this chair up your ass,’” said Sgt. Brian Shreves of the SCV Sheriff’s Station. “Then he threw a chair at the male Asian victim, striking him in the abdomen.” 

“(The first suspect) started walking towards the parking lot, victim went to follow him, telling bystanders to call the police,” said Shreves. “As he got out there, (the second suspect), in a separate car than suspect one, put his car into reverse and backed into the victim, hitting him and knocking him onto the trunk of the car.”  

According to the two witnesses to the incident, suspect two then drove about 10 feet before slamming on his brakes, causing the victim to fall off the vehicle, Shreves said. The two suspects then drove off.  

“Two witnesses corroborated the same story (as the victim), suspects were identified, arrested and posted bail,” said Shreves. “The case was rejected by the District Attorney’s office.” 

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office did not respond to a request for comment as to why the case was rejected. At the time, Jackie Lacey was still serving as district attorney before being replaced in the November election by George Gascón. 

The second hate crime, which was reported on the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations report but not found in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department system, occurred somewhere in the eastern part of the SCV, but the map provided by the county in the report did not specify. It was labeled an “anti-Asian hate crime” while the Starbucks incident was labeled a “anti-Asian hate crime (COVID-19 related).”  

The 44 anti-Asian hate crimes reported throughout L.A. County were the highest since 2001, “when there were 42 anti-Asian racial hate crimes and 38 additional crimes after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in which the victims were South Asian,” the report read. 

“Hate has no place in Los Angeles County,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the SCV, said in a prepared statement. “I am sickened by the increase in crimes against the Asian-American community. This is an important reminder for all residents to stand up and speak out when they witness a hate crime. Our neighborhoods must be accepting and safe for residents of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds.” 

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