The number of hate crimes reported so far this year in Los Angeles has already surpassed any of the yearly totals since the city began making its data public more than a decade ago.

Through Nov. 21, the most recent date for which data is available, the Los Angeles Police Department has recorded 620 hate crimes, the most of any full year since at least 2010. Throughout all of 2021, there were 596 hate crimes reported. It marks the ninth consecutive year in which hate crimes have risen in the city.

The figures represent the type of spike that often accompanies the months around an election, when charged rhetoric can spill over into violence. Past years falling within the election cycle also saw a rise in hate crimes, according to Prof. Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

“In 2016, November was the worst month of the year,” said Levin. “In 2018, another election year, it was October.”

Capri Maddox, the executive director of the Los Angeles Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department, noted that some political messaging either implicitly or explicitly targets groups that are frequently victims of hate-fueled attacks.

“The election cycle that just wrapped up had a lot of undertones and, maybe in more overt ways as well, discussions about the transgender community and the LGBTQ+ community. We believe that encourages some people that may have been dealing with mental illness to move in a direction of violence,” said Maddox, referencing the shooting that killed five people in an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado.

Black Angelenos have suffered the greatest increase in hate crimes compared with any other group. There were 166 hate crimes that were motivated by anti-Black sentiment as of Nov. 21, a 34% increase from the same period last year.

Maddox said the rise in anti-Black hate crimes may be due in part to improved reporting since 2021. In recent years, the city has launched several initiatives and forums geared toward educating residents about different avenues for reporting hate crimes.

“I’m African-American and our community has suffered these wrongs for far too long,” said Maddox. “We want to make sure that whether the reports come to the police or community center, or if people feel comfortable calling 311 or 211 versus 911 for non-emergency incidents, it is important for that information to be documented so that we are aware of it.”

African-Americans comprise about 8% of the city’s population but were targeted in 27% of the hate crimes reported so far this year. The second-most targeted demographic were Latino residents, followed by gay men and Jewish people. 

One of these crimes this year involved the aggravated assault of a 60-year-old Black man on Feb. 24 at a gas station on Washington Boulevard in the Pico-Union neighborhood. Police arrested the perpetrator, who allegedly wielded a knife.

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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