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Hate crimes up in CA

by Seth Hemmelgarn

Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Photo: Rick Gerharter
Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

Hate crimes rose in California by about 11 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to a new report from state Attorney General Xavier Becerra

The 2016 edition of the Hate Crime in California report says there were 837 bias-motivated incidents in 2015 and 931 in 2016, an 11.2 percent increase. Hate crime incidents related to the victim's sexual orientation went from 188 to 207, an increase of 10.1 percent.

"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," Becerra said in a July 3 news release announcing the report's publication. "We can see from today's report that words matter, and discriminatory rhetoric does not make us stronger but divides us and puts the safety of our communities at risk. This is why condemning hate crimes, discrimination, and racism is critical to ensuring all Californians live without fear of being targeted because of their race, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation.

"As California's attorney general, I am committed to working with local law enforcement agencies, schools, and local communities to enforce California's anti-hate crime statutes to the fullest extent of the law. I strongly encourage anyone who believes they are a victim of a hate crime to report it to local law enforcement immediately," he added.

The report is drawn from data submitted by police departments, district attorneys, and other agencies throughout the state.

While hate crimes went up last year, the report shows there's been a decrease in the last decade.

In 2007, 1,426 bias-motivated crimes were reported, meaning there was a drop of 34.7 percent by the end of 2016.

Hate crime incidents related to sexual orientation have also decreased since 2007, when 263 such cases were reported statewide, leading to a 27.1 percent drop over the last decade.

The attorney general's report says that cases related to race/ethnicity/national origin bias were the most common kind of hate crime over the past 10 years, while incidents related to the victim's sexual orientation were the second most common.

According to the report, crimes motivated by a bias against gay men went from 108 in 2015 to 152 in 2016, a 40.7 percent jump.

In San Francisco in 2016, there were 36 hate crime events and 45 offenses. (There may be one or more offenses for each event.) The number of anti-LGBT incidents wasn't immediately available.

San Leandro had more hate crimes last year than any other city in the East Bay, with 22 events and 22 offenses.

In San Mateo County, 16 events and 20 offenses were reported.

The totals for Santa Clara County were 40 events and 97 offenses. About half of those cases were from San Jose, the Bay Area's largest city.

Greg Carey, chief of the volunteer group Castro Community on Patrol, said he suspects hate crime incidents are underreported.

When people are making a 911 call and speaking to police about an incident that they suspect is a hate crime, they need to make that clear, he said.

The level of underreporting hate crimes "is likely people just not understanding they need to speak up," said Carey, but "if they don't mention it, it probably isn't going to be investigated as one."

The attorney general's report is available at




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