Reported hate crimes in Los Angeles County declined by 17 percent in 2013 from the previous year, marking the lowest total in 24 years, the county Commission on Human Relations announced today. Crimes against gay men fell by 41 percent while those against lesbians increased by 92 percent and those against transgender people increased by 46 percent.
According to its annual report — which defines a hate crime as one in which hatred or prejudice toward a victim’s race or ethnicity, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation was a substantial factor — there were 384 reported hate crimes countywide last year, a decrease of 78 from 2012.
“The continued decline in the number of hate crimes should not lull us into complacency,” commission President Susanne Cumming said. “We know that the under-reporting of hate crimes remains a serious problem. Although the statistics are encouraging, we have to remember that fear, shame and unfamiliarity with the law prevent many victims from reporting hate crimes.”
Similar to past years, four groups represented the bulk of victims of hate crimes, with 82 percent of them being either black, lesbian women/gay men, Jewish or Latino. However, two groups documented in the report saw dramatic decreases: crimes targeting gay men dropped 41 percent from 119 to 70, and anti- Jewish crimes declined 48 percent from 81 in 2012 to 42 last year.
“We’re gratified that in 2013, the number of hate crimes in L.A. County was about half of what was reported six years ago, and there’s a strong downward trend of youth involvement in hate crimes,” said commission Executive Director Robin Toma. “However, on average more than one hate crime was reported every day in 2013, and not every group saw a decline in hate crimes.
We’ll be focusing on those crimes, particularly the continued high rate of violence in anti-transgender hate crimes, victimization of African-Americans by gang members, and continuing human relations leadership development with our youth.”
The report showed that juveniles are showing up less and less as hate crime suspects, becoming the smallest age group for the first time in at least the past 10 years. People under 18 went from being the largest age group among hate crime suspects — 40 percent in 2006 — to being the smallest at 14 percent in 2013.
Further, the most serious criminal offenses also declined. For the first time in 10 years, there were no murders or attempted murders. Aggravated assaults — which include assaults with deadly weapons and physical attacks causing greater bodily injury — decreased 38 percent.
“I attribute the continued decrease of hate crimes to a strong working relationship between law enforcement, educators and a broad array of dedicated community-based organizations throughout L.A. County,” Sheriff John L. Scott said. “Collectively, we have made hate crime prevention efforts a priority and we are seeing the results of this work.”
Although reports of hate crimes against most targeted groups declined, there were some groups which saw increases in 2013 compared to the previous year.
Crimes against lesbians increased from 11 in 2012 to 25 last year,
transgender people went from 13 to 19, Asian/Pacific Islanders were targeted 15 times last year, an increase of 3 from the previous year, Protestants increased from 4 to 8, and Middle Easterners rose from 4 to 5. Hate crimes with anti-immigrant slurs did not see a decline, remaining at 15.
The highest rate of hate crimes took place in the San Fernando Valley.
When accounting for population, the Antelope Valley had the highest rate of hate crimes, followed by the metro region, which stretches from West Hollywood to Boyle Heights.
The commission’s report was generated from data collected from sheriff and city police departments, school districts and community groups.