Reported L.A. County hate crimes increased 20% in 2020

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

Hate crimes within Los Angeles County increased by 20% in 2020, the largest increase since 2008, according to a report released on Wednesday.  

Released by the L.A. County Commission on Human Relations, the report states that the number of documented hate crimes throughout the county had jumped from 530 in 2019 to 635 in 2020, and that the increase is due to a 53% jump in racial hate crime.  

“African Americans were again the largest group of victims and anti-Black hate crimes rose 35% from 125 to 169,” according to the report. “African Americans only comprise 9% of L.A. County residents but make up 42% of racial hate crime victims.” 

Anti-Asian hate crimes countywide saw a 76% increase in 2020, anti-Latino crimes increased 58% and sexual orientation crimes rose by 17%. Religious crimes decreased by 18% — 88% of which were anti-Jewish — but the overall rate of violence increased from 65% to 68%, according to the report.   

The report shows that four individual hate crimes were reported in the Santa Clarita Valley, all of which were related to race, ethnicity and/or national origin.  

The first local hate crime to be reported in 2020 occurred on Aug. 20 at a Starbucks on Valencia Boulevard and involved two Latino males allegedly targeting a man who appeared to be Asian and wasn’t wearing a mask inside the business.  

“The suspects were upset the victim was not wearing a mask and used derogatory, anti-Asian language along with a verbal threat, that escalated into an assault with a deadly weapon,” according to Monica Lomeli, the Hate Crime Database manager for the Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services.   

The second reported incident for the year occurred on Sept. 15 on the 22000 block of 11th Street in Newhall and involved a Hispanic man coming out to find his car scratched multiple times and a racial slur etched into the side of his vehicle.  

Two days later, a third hate crime was reported on the 28000 block of Gracioso Street in Valencia after a Black man reported to law enforcement that he had received several text messages from an unknown person that contained death threats and racial slurs.  

The final hate crime to be reported in the Santa Clarita Valley in 2020 stemmed from deputies   responding to a report of a white woman verbally assaulting a Black man on the 18000 block of Via Princesa in Canyon Country.   

“Suspect approached the victim and asked him to purchase food for her,” said Sgt. Brian Shreves of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. “The victim ignored her.”   

The white woman is alleged to have then begun calling the man racial slurs and issuing death threats at him.  

Deputies made arrests in both the first and fourth hate crime incidents while the other two remain unsolved as of the publication of this story, Shreves said.  

“It is deplorable that hate crimes continue to persist in L.A. County,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger said in a prepared statement. “Awareness and understanding the issues that drive individuals to commit these crimes will go a long way to promote healing and prevention. Hopefully, one day, we will no longer have a need to release hate crime data because it will not exist.”  

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