LA County’s Commission on Human Relations issued its annual report on hate crimes for 2021 Wednesday, which reflects an increase in crimes against individuals based on their race/ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, gender and disability.
Countywide, the commission reported that the figures for 2021, the most recent data available, represented a 19-year high in hate crimes.
Local data on such incidents, which comes from law enforcement, as well as a variety of other organizations and agencies, according to the county’s anti-hate crimes program coordinator, also indicated there was an uptick of such crimes last year versus 2020.
The commission’s data, which breaks down the location of the incidents by ZIP code, reflects there were 14 Santa Clarita Valley victims of hate crimes in 2021, and six in 2020.
In the SCV, six of the victims in 2021 believed the attacks to be motivated by their race, ethnicity and/or national origin, two associated the attacks with religion, two with gender and one involved sexual orientation.
The report notes one of the two SCV incidents was believed to be religiously motivated, referring to an elementary school maintenance worker who reported finding spray-painted graffiti with swastikas, “Hitler did nothing wrong,” “Gas chamber,” “KKK,” “Hail Hitler” and “Jews.”
The report collects data from every law enforcement agency in L.A. County, city-based police departments and even colleges, school districts and organizations that serve groups that face discrimination, such as the Anti-Defamation League, said Marshall Wong, the primary author of the report. The commission looks at the number of victims, not the number of incidents.
“We use the report as a way of holding up a mirror about what is happening in our own backyard,” Wong said, “and we disseminate this information to policymakers and law enforcement agencies, as well as community-based stakeholders, to better inform efforts to detect, to prevent, investigate and prosecute hate crimes. Using this information, we hope to be able to direct resources and attention to those communities in greatest need.”
The commission also noted during a discussion of the report Wednesday that only about half of all such incidents that were noted in its data ended up being reported to law enforcement, meaning the actual number of incidents could be higher.
A request for the data on local reports of hate crimes to the SCV Sheriff’s Station was referred to a California Public Records Act request Wednesday morning.
Reported hate crimes in Los Angeles County grew 23% from 641 to 786 in 2021, according to a news release issued by the commission.
The report also noted that Black individuals continue to make up a disproportionately higher number of victims for such incidents, comprising 9% of the population but 46% of all hate crime victims. This is an increase from the 42% that was reported in 2020.
The commission also reported that 74% of incidents in 2021 were of a violent nature, the highest such percentage in at least two decades.
“After hitting an all-time low in 2013, reported hate crimes in Los Angeles County gradually rose for six years,” according to the commission’s report. “Then in 2020, spurred by a contentious presidential election, unprecedented protests for racial justice and a pandemic that claimed the lives of more than 345,000 people, hate crime in Los Angeles County jumped 21% from 530 to 641.”