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It has been 21 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks that led to the fall of the Twin Towers in New York City, the destruction of the Pentagon and the plane crash in Pennsylvania. That day marks one of the most heinous hate crimes perpetrated on Americans.

“As we commemorate each passing year with solemness, the painful memory of that terrible day will forever haunt us with the loss of thousands of American souls,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Curren Price. “The lessons we have learned and continue to learn unites us together so we have the courage, strength and power to fight whatever trials or challenges come our way.”

Locally, hate crimes have become quite a challenge. Although not on a scale as the 9/11 disaster, they nevertheless inflict pain on individuals and families.

The California Civil Code Section 51.7 states the following: “All persons within the jurisdiction of this State have the right to be free from any violence, or intimidation by threat of violence, committed against their persons or property because of their race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, or position in a labor dispute. Anyone who violates the right provided by Section 51.7 is liable for each and every offense for the actual damages suffered by any person determined by a court of law.” 

In 2021, Los Angeles recorded 596 hate crimes, the highest number ever reported, according to Crosstown, a group which analyzed LAPD data. There were a total of 355 hate crimes committed in the city the year before. The nearly 17% increase includes more attacks against Black and transgender Angelenos

“Los Angeles is an interesting place,” said Michael Lawson, president and CEO of the LA Urban League (LAUL). “We have so many ethnicities within Los Angeles and we’re all sort of segregated.”

This segregation, Lawson believes, is partially to blame for the rise in hate crimes, along with the pandemic and city residents’ affinity to their cars. 

“You can get into your car, roll up your windows and lock the doors before you get out of the garage, and not interact with anyone until you get to your destination,” he said, noting that this is quite unlike New York or other cities where residents use more public transportation.

“There is very little interaction between these ethnicities. That is something that we have to change,” Lawson said. “Because of that, when there is interaction, there’s a lack of familiarity, so there’s tension. We have to break that down.”

Although the Urban League is not the first repository when people want to report hate incidents, the organization is often there when these issues arise.  

“Our focus is on creating a bond in communities so we recognize that we are stronger together,” Lawson said. “That is the type of connectivity that we have to regain.”

The LAUL has stood with a number of hate crime vicitms, Lawson said.

“We were unapologetic about the fact that we need to walk arm in arm with the Hispanic community, the Asian community, the LGBTQ community… we all have to battle this together,” Lawson said. “There’s an old phrase — ‘together we stand, divided we fall.’” 

For information on hate crimes call the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Victim-Witness Assistance Program at (213) 974-7499 or (800) 380-3811. The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office Special Victims Unit is at (213) 978-8040. The Hate Crimes Division can be reached at (213) 257-2385

Anyone who has had monetary or property loss because of the criminal act of another has the right to sue them for those monetary losses. When considering filing a civil lawsuit, contact a civil attorney right away.

Victims of hate crimes should  call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest LAPD community police station.

This article is a part of a series of articles for Our Weekly’s #StopTheHate campaign and is supported in whole or part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library. #NoPlaceForHateCA,

#StopAAPIHate, #CaliforniaForAll

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