The 2016 Hate Crime Report produced by Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations revealed on Thursday that there were 482 hate crimes that year, which was one more than in 2015.
"The number of crimes has remained elevated, here, in our county," said Robin Toma, executive director of the human relations commission.
In the Hate Crime Report of 2015, there was a 24 percent increase from the previous year, making it the highest total recorded.
"Armed with this data, law enforcement agencies and policymakers can direct peacebuilding and anti-hate resources to the communities and geographic areas in the greatest need. Information contained in this report is also used in the training of law enforcement personnel and crime victim assistant professionals throughout the Los Angeles County," said Isabelle Gunning, president of the human relations commission, at a press conference on the annual report.
In 2016, the largest targeted group for hate crime was the LGBT community. From 2015 to 2016, gender-based crimes rose from 22 to 39, which is an increase of 77 percent. Transgender crimes jumped from 18 to 31, and Latina transgender women were targeted the most.
Mariana Marroquin, the program manager of the anti-violence project of the Los Angeles LGBT center, spoke at the press conference. She is an immigrant, transgender woman who is a hate crime survivor.
"We must start treating each other with respect," Marroquin said. "LGBT people and transgender individuals, we have been fighting back for forever. We fight when we go out looking for a job. We fight when we go to a school. We cannot keep fighting alone. We need your support."
According to Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, the Muslim community has seen a large increase in hate crimes as well. The report says 15 percent of the 101 religious hate crimes were toward Muslims.
"We have to remember American Muslims only comprise 1 percent of the population. So for the numbers to be at the level as they are here, that is definitely disproportionate to our population," said Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
The report also says that hate crimes committed by white supremacists grew from 63 to 105, an increase of 67 from 2015 to 2016.
"For a number of years, we've been tracking crimes committed by two particular groups of suspects: white supremacists and gang members. Together, these groups form one-fourth of all known suspects," said executive director Toma.
In West Hollywood, these suspects have been making their presence known while frightening the community.
"Over the last several months, we've had to alert the Sheriff's Department because white supremacists and anti-immigrant groups have been disruptive in communities, disrupting the city council meetings," Supervisor Solis said. "Residents are fearful to attend these meetings because these groups have shown up yelling hateful rhetoric and even brandishing weapons."
Although white supremacists have been a problem, anti-white crimes jumped from 11 to 27, making that a 145 percent rise.
Anti-African American crimes dropped by 19 percent, which may be partly due to the drop in the number of hate crimes by Latino gang members targeting African Americans, the report states. After jumping 69 percent in 2015, anti-Latino crimes only increased slightly in 2016 from 61 to 62.
With the numbers remaining somewhat constant, the executive director found a positive side.
"The fact that there was no increase in 2016 is very good news given that statewide, the California attorney general reported an 11.2 percent increase in hate crime and nationally, the FBI reported a 4.6 percent rise," Toma said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has taken steps toward decreasing hate crime. But Marroquin, the hate crime survivor, also believes the decrease in hate crime depends on our community, as a whole.
"We must start treating each other with respect," she said. "I have faith in each of you here today, and the ones at home, that we need to respect each other. And definitely, these numbers have to decrease by next year."