California hate crimes up; blacks, Jews, gay men targets
KTVU and AP) -- The number of hate crimes in California increased about 11 percent last year, the second consecutive double-digit increase, but the overall number still was a third lower total than a decade ago, the state's attorney general reported Monday. Blacks, Jews and gay men were among the most frequent targets.
There were 931 such crimes reported statewide in 2016, nearly 100 more than in 2015. That equated to about one for every 42,000 Californians.
By comparison, there were 1,426 hate crimes reported in 2007, when the state had about 3 million fewer people than the more than 39 million in 2016.
Crime researcher Jack Glaser, a professor at UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy says the report likely shows only part of the picture. He says the actual hate crime numbers are likely much higher.
"If you look at the National Crime Victimization Survey, which is a random survey of people, you'll 10-20% times as many hate crimes reported than what you see get reported to police. So the phenomenon is much larger than what the policing data is going to reveal," said Glaser.
More than half the crimes reported last year were based on the victim's race or ethnicity. Hate crimes involving a victim's sexual orientation increased about 10 percent, to 207 last year, with about three-quarters of those targeting gay men.
Less than 20 percent were because of the victim's religion. Jews, not Muslims, were the most common targets even amid heated rhetoric by Donald Trump during the presidential campaign regarding potential terror threats from Muslims.
There are no statewide statistics on hate crimes in California since Trump took office in January.
Glaser said the number of hate crimes had been on the decline since 2010.
"The fact that there's an increase from 2015 to 2016 comports with some of the anectdotal data about increased inter-racial, inter-religious and inter-ethnic tensions in the current political climate, so that is something worth looking further into," said Glaser.
"When someone commits a crime motivated by hate, it is not just an attack on one innocent person, but an attack on the entire state and our communities," Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement. "Words matter, and discriminatory rhetoric does not make us stronger but divides us and puts the safety of our communities at risk."
Becerra noted that FBI reports show a nationwide increase in hate crimes. More than half of such crimes are not reported to police, he said, while pledging to work with law enforcement to prosecute those responsible.
Glaser says that is why it is so important to try and record and report hate crimes.
"It's very common that hate crimes damage and hurt and scare the community to which the victim belongs," said Glaser, "There's the effect it has on the relationships among communities and the degree of trust you ahve between communities, and between communities and authorities. So It's really important to track that."
Racially motivated attacks spurred much of the overall increase last year. They increased more than 20 percent, from 428 in 2015 to 519 last year. Those targeting whites increased from 34 to 56; those against blacks from 231 to 251.
The reports are submitted to the attorney general's office by California law enforcement agencies and district attorneys' offices.
Nearly two-thirds of all the hate crimes reported last year were violent, while the rest were property crimes.
About 40 percent of crimes categorized as violent involved intimidation and 30 percent simple assault. About a quarter were aggravated assaults. Ninety percent of the property crimes involved vandalism.
More than 300 hate crime cases were forwarded to county prosecutors last year, and they filed charges in 220 of them. Of the cases completed by year's end, more than 80 percent resulted in convictions.
CONTRA COSTA 21
SAN FRANCISCO 36
SAN MATEO 16
SANTA CLARA 40
Hate crime in California 2016 report