Report reveals increase in hate crimes across LA

The 2020 report showed a 76% increase in hate crimes committed against the AAPI community, with the Black community experiencing the most hate crimes over all

The Asian American/Pacific Islander community experienced the largest rise in hate crimes last year, according to the Los Angeles County 2020 Hate Crime Report released Wednesday. The Black community experienced the largest amount of hate crimes with 169 in total.

Hate crimes targeting Asians grew 76%, the most in nearly two decades, according to Robin Toma, executive director of the LA County Commission on Human Relations, in a conference held virtually. Anti-Asian hate crimes made up 11% of all racial hate crimes in the county in 2020.

“An important finding is that those targeting Asians in LA County were mostly white, then Latino and Latinas, and the smallest group was Blacks,” Toma said.

Though Black Americans only make up 9% of LA County’s population “they comprise 42% of racial hate crime victims,” according to Toma. Although the Black Lives Matter protests during the summer of 2020 brought attention to systemic racism, the Black community experienced a 35% rise in hate crimes. Black people “are grossly overrepresented every year as victims of racial hate crime.”

The report points to the global COVID-19 pandemic and the spreading of misinformation regarding its origins as cause for the dramatic increase in hate crimes against the Asian community, which some thought received little media coverage throughout the year.

Viral footage of Asian individuals being taunted, harassed, and even killed, spread across social media, leading to the Stop AAPI Hate movement, which sparked protests and advocacy initiatives across the country.

The report also highlighted that anti-Black hate crimes rose 35% from 125 to 169, while anti-Latino/a crimes increased 58% from 67 to 105. Additionally, sexual orientation crimes accounted for 18% of hate crimes reported and increased by 17% from the year prior, according to the report. Eighty-three percent of these crimes resulted in violence.

There were a total of 635 hate crimes reported in 2020, according to the report. Compared to 2019, there was a 20% increase in these crimes. This is the highest number of hate crimes since 2013.

During the virtual meeting, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón urged that he is committed to making LA County a place where “diversity is embraced and protected.”

“As we have seen in this report, 2020 was an unusual year,” Gascón said. “Every community group was a potential target for hate. My office is working productively to address those crimes.”

Past hate crime reports from the county have been used not only to inform the public, but also to justify public funding for certain groups, Marshall Wong, team leader and principal author of the report, said. He urged that the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations hopes to use this research to help targeted communities.

“We believe that by creating this kind of knowledge we can be much more thoughtful and nimble and skillful at: How do we combat that what we’re seeing right now is a tidal wave of hatred?” Wong said.

He said one way to combat hate crimes is law enforcement training. This is “an area where it’s not just how to conduct an effective investigation, but also how to work effectively with traumatized victims of hate,” Wong said.

He also stressed the importance of multicultural education and history for children.

“When you know nothing about another group of people based on race or ethnicity, it’s a lot easier to other them and to deny their humanity,” Wong said.

The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations will host the first LA vs Hate United Against Hate Week, November 14-20. The events will raise awareness about how dangerous hate can be and will focus on how to build stronger connections, according to the website.