Hate crimes rose in Los Angeles County to the highest level in 20 years but many still go unreported.

A new report of hate crimes committed in 2021 was released Wednesday by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations.

Hate crimes in 2021 rose 23% from 641 to 786 incidents, the largest number reported since 2002. And 74% of those hateful acts were of a violent nature.

Latinos are victims and perpetrators of hate crimes. 

Here are some examples of acts of hate highlighted in the report.

A Latina street vendor was attacked by a white male suspect who appeared inebriated. He shouted, “You’re a beggar” and “Go back to your country!” He swung a hammer and broke a bus shelter window. Frightened, the victim started backing away. The suspect advanced on the victim, yelling, “You’re the reason Trump lost, you Hispanic ass!” and swung the hammer again, nearly striking her. A witness called police, who arrested the suspect.

A Latina female and her mother were selling tamales on a street corner. A black male approached them and yelled, “You need to leave the country! You don’t have papers!” As the suspect walked away, he threatened to call the police. He then threw a bottle at the victim, hitting her in the shoulder. The bottle shattered on the ground and the suspect fled on foot.

A black female was walking in a store parking lot when a vehicle tried to run her over. The Latino driver shouted the “N” word. The victim ignored him and entered the store. When she returned to her car she found a packet of hot sauce smeared on her rear windshield. She began driving away when she thought that her car was dragging something. She pulled over and noticed that all four of her tires were flat. Store video footage captured the Latino motorist puncturing or letting the air out of each tire and then smearing the hot sauce on the rear windshield. 

The percentage of hate crimes targeting people of Mexican heritage grew 38% from 2020 to 2021. Of anti-Latino/as hate crimes, 64% were committed by African Americans, followed by whites (23%), and other Latino/as (12%). 

In Latino/a-on-Latino/a hate crimes, many of the attackers made anti-immigrant slurs, sometimes in Spanish. Hate crimes in which anti-immigrant slurs were used increased 48% from 56 to 83, the largest number ever recorded. 

Black are 9% of the county population but comprise 46% of racial hate crime victims. In 2021, 51% of anti-Black hate crimes were committed by white suspects and 45% were committed by Latino/as.

There also were 77 anti-Asian crimes, the largest number in around 20 years. In nearly a quarter of these attacks, the victims also were blamed for the pandemic.

The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations has published this annual hate crime report since 1980, one of the longest efforts tracking hate crimes in the U.S.

The Commission also collects reports from every law enforcement agency in Los Angeles County, as well as from some colleges, school districts, and community-based organizations, and directly from victims.

But many hate crimes go unreported. Nearly half of all violent hate crimes are not reported to law enforcement, according to The U.S. Department of Justice.

Some of the reasons that victims do not report hate crimes include:

  1. They believed the incident was not important enough to be reported to police 
  2. There was nothing police could do to help 
  3. Police would not want to be bothered or to get involved 
  4. Reporting the incident would bring more trouble for the victim

Immigrant victims may fear reprisals and worse deportation.

The California State Attorney General reported a larger increase in hate crimes increasing 41.9% from 1,536 to 2,180 from 2020 to 2021. At the time of this report’s release, the FBI had not released national hate crime statistics for 2021. 

This is why we need more support for government and community efforts to track hate. But we also need to assure victims that they will not be victimized again in reporting acts of hate.

Los Angeles county coordinates a Network Against Hate Crimes that includes government representatives, law enforcement agencies, civil and human rights organizations, educators, faith communities, and service groups. They support the Hate Violence Prevention Partnership-LA to reduce hate violence by providing practitioners opportunities to share best practices and exchange relevant and timely information. This includes a network of 16 organizations to provide support and services to persons targeted by hate. 

But even with these efforts hate is still on the rise. 

The rise in hate is unrelenting. If only we could work toward a rise in tolerance and compassion.