The California Department of Justice released its annual report on hate crimes reported in 2017 on Monday, July 9. Local law enforcement agencies reported 1,093 hate crimes last year, a more than 17% increase from 2016, which was an 11% increase over 2015.
San Diego County had the second highest statewide total of reported hate crimes with 95 events, 121 offenses, 114 victims, and 82 suspects apprehended. Los Angeles County (with three times the population) was California’s biggest hotbed of hate, with 419 incidents.
A hate crime, as defined by the state, is a crime against a person, group, or property motivated by the victim’s real or perceived protected social group. The data included in the report does not include hate incidents, defined as is an action or behavior motivated by hate but legally protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of expression.
Hate crimes reported against people on religious grounds showed the biggest numerical increase; the fastest growing category based on percentages involved anti-Hispanic or anti-Latino bias, up by 52% last year.
A person’s real or perceived sexual orientation as the basis for reported incidents increased by nearly 19%, with crimes against gay males accounting for the largest part of the group.The increase in reported hate crimes is reflective of the national frame of mind in light of the country’s leadership. There are now daily reports of racist verbal attacks wherein people of color just trying to go about their daily business are harassed and defamed. Newly entitled MAGAts behave as though law enforcement should be their personal racism valets.
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Representatives of Bay Area anti-discrimination groups said the statistics were significant and daunting but unsurprising, given the current political and social environment.
“This is a disturbing rise in hate crimes,” said Nancy Appel, senior associate director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Central Pacific Region. “The numbers have been going up in recent years, but this is a significant increase across categories.”
The Rev. Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco branch of the NAACP, blamed the increase in hate crimes on President Trump, saying his remarks, in speeches and on Twitter, have made discrimination and hate acceptable. “This president has emboldened those who are perpetrators of hate with his rhetoric, his vulgarity and with his outright abusive language attacking people from Caribbean Islands and from Africa,” he said. “It begins at the top.”
Of the total hate crimes reported statewide in 2017, 35% were referred for prosecution, according to data released by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
A state audit released in May revealed a statewide chronic undercounting of hate crimes, due to outdated policies allowing law enforcement agencies to misidentify or fail to report incidents.
Nationally, federal authorities estimate that more than half of all hate crimes aren’t reported to police, according to the Associated Press.
[California] Auditors found dozens of unreported cases among the four local law enforcement agencies it reviewed. The auditors also said nearly a third of the 245 law enforcement agencies they surveyed do nothing to encourage the public to report hate crimes.
And those incidents that are reported are less likely to be successfully prosecuted.
From the Sacramento Bee:
Over the past decade, hate crimes in California have been successfully prosecuted at just half the rate of felonies overall, the audit noted. While prosecutors statewide secured an 84 percent conviction rate for felonies between 2007 and 2016, the rate fluctuated between 40 percent and 51 percent annually for hate crimes.
The auditor’s office found that a lack of identifiable witnesses or sufficient evidence were major barriers for prosecutors. But after surveying 245 law enforcement agencies across the state, it found that more than 30 percent do not use any methods to encourage the public to report hate crimes.
“Hate crimes are likely to continue to go underreported by victims and witnesses until law enforcement agencies effectively engage with vulnerable communities,” the audit stated.
In San Diego, 32 hate crimes were referred for prosecution to either the City or County prosecutor. Slightly less than half (17) were filed as hate crimes.
This should come as a surprise to nobody, especially with County Sheriff Bill Gore, who essentially has refused to acknowledge acts of harassment and/or violence at the hands of local right-wing extremists.
Happy Headline of the Day
And it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t include the Green Day video, which you legally required to play at full volume:
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