Highest anti-black hate crime incidents in California
By Antonio Ray Harvey, California Black Media
A report released by the California Department of Justice (DOJ) last month found that hate crimes targeting black people in the state “remain the most pervasive violations” regarding a recent increase in racially motivated violence.
On June 28, State Attorney General Rob Bonta hosted a press conference announcing the DOJ’s release of the 2021 California Hate Crimes Report (HCCR). The report presents hate crime statistics such as the number of hate crime events, hate crime offenses, hate crime victims and hate crime suspects.
California law defines a hate crime as a criminal act committed in whole or in part because of the victim’s actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, their sexual orientation or association with someone with one or more of these actual disabilities or perceived characteristics.
Assaults against the black community increased by 12.5%, from 456 incidents in 2020 to 513 in 2021.
“Today’s report undeniably shows that the epidemic of hate we’ve seen spread during the pandemic remains a clear and current threat,” Bonta said. “In fact, reported hate crimes have reached a level we haven’t seen in California since the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. As our state’s top law enforcement official, I will continue to use the full authority of my office to fight back.”
A breakdown of victims by “biased motivation” shows that 589 Black or African American individuals or entities were victimized in 2021 and 468 suspects carried out the crimes. There were 507 black or African American people victimized by hate crimes while 42 businesses or financial institutions, 34 government agencies and five religious organizations were affected.
At Bonta’s press conference, Jimmie Jackson, the Bay Area representative for the NAACP’s California-Hawaii State Conference and Vallejo branch president, supported DOJ’s efforts to combat against hate crimes across the state.
“We are all tired of seeing our brothers and sisters of color being targets of hate, discrimination and racism,” Jackson said. “We are working (with the DOJ) on a project to end hate and move us all toward collective justice in communities of color through preventive services with funding from the Department of Human Services.”
According to Jackson, the Vallejo NAACP has seen an increase in hate mail and hate messages since the 2016 presidential election. In the Bay Area, the black community is experiencing an increase in intimidation tactics, physical assaults and threats deportation, reports the Bay Area News Group.
In Los Angeles County, home to the state’s largest black population, African Americans were disproportionately targeted in hate crimes (42%) involving race, according to a 2020 report on Los Angeles County hate crimes. In 2020, the black community in the county was 810,286 or 9% of the population.
There were a total of 1,763 bias events in California in 2021. Overall, hate crimes increased 32.6% from 2020 to 2021, and are at their highest reported level since 2001. found the HCCR.
Anti-Asian hate crimes increased dramatically, increasing by 177.5% from 2020 to 2021, and reported hate crimes involving sexual orientation bias also increased significantly, increasing by 47.8% from 2020 to 2021.
Amid the increase in documented hate crime events, Bonta urged local partners and law enforcement to review the statistics provided in the HCCR’s 42-page report and recommit to taking action against the offenses motivated by racial or other prejudice.
At the press conference, Bonta announced the creation of a statewide Hate Crimes Coordinator position within the DOJ’s Criminal Law Division to support law enforcement efforts. national and local authorities to combat hate crimes.
“We will continue to work with our local law enforcement partners and community organizations to ensure that every Californian is seen, heard and protected,” Bonta said. “Now, more than ever, it’s critical that we stick together – there’s no room for hate in California.”
Two days after the DOJ released his report, U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman held a press briefing in San Diego that included a hate crime threat assessment, an overview of pre-attack indicators, and the best ways to to report and mitigate hate threats.
Grossman brought together top law enforcement and community leaders in response to recent violent shootings, white supremacist rhetoric online and a significant increase in hate crimes.
“Violent remarks by online extremists resulted in public ‘tip’ reports to law enforcement, followed by a gun violence prohibition order and successful federal prosecutions. To ensure repetition of this prevention strategy, it is essential to arm our community leaders with information,” said Grossman. “It is important for community members to know that they are not alone in this battle against radical extremism, hate threats and targeted gun violence.
Hate crimes are distinct from hate-motivated incidents, which are hate-motivated actions or behaviors that may be protected by the First Amendment’s right to free speech. Examples of hateful incidents include name-calling, insults and the distribution of hateful material in public places. If a hate incident begins to threaten a person or property, it can become a hate crime, according to DOJ officials.
Historically, hate crime data has been under-reported. The DOJ acknowledges that the data presented in its report may not adequately reflect the true number of hate crime events that have occurred in the state.
Nonetheless, the total number of hate crime events reported in 2021 is the sixth highest on record and the highest since 2001 following the September 11 terrorist attacks, Bonta noted.
Jackson said the NAACP California-Hawaii State Conference will work with black California radio, print and online media to educate ethnic populations to raise awareness of hate and bigotry in the state.
“These kinds of anti-hate projects are long overdue, and the NAACP is proud to take a leadership position in communities of color,” Jackson said. “We cannot continue to allow the forces of hatred, racism and discrimination to continue to run unchecked.”
A copy of the 2021 California Hate Crimes Report is available here or at https://oag.ca.gov/system/files/attachments/press-docs/Hate%20Crime%20In%20CA%202021%20FINAL.pdf