Hate Crimes in California Spike: Jews, Gays and Blacks Attacked the Most

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Estephany Haro

El Observador

The number of hate crimes reported in California continue to increase.

In 2016, 11.2% was the total reported number of hate crimes. Blacks, Jews, Latinos and gay men are the most targeted, according to state Justice Department officials. The report was released by Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and the data includes the number of hate crime events and both, the number of victims and suspects of those crimes across the state.

The data comes from a collection of local programs that submit hate crime statistics, the programs were developed by law enforcement agencies, district attorneys, and elected city attorney’s offices in California, according to the state.

“It does surprise me…I thought we were the friendliest state,” said Maria Gonzalez, a resident of San Jose.

According to the Department of Justice, over the last ten years, the total number of hate crime events has decreased 34.7% from 1,426 in 2007 to 931 in 2016. However, the Hate crime events increased 11.2% from 837 in 2015 to 931 in 2016.

Melissa Carrasco, a senior at San Jose State University said that she has witness more hate speech after the presidential elections. “Honestly this report doesn’t surprise me, I’ve heard people refer to others in a hateful way and this all started since Trump decided to run for president.”

Hate crime incidents involving a racial basis increased 21.3% from 428 in 2015 to 519 in 2016, making hate crimes with a race, ethnicity, national origin bias consistently the most common type of hate crime over the past ten years from 2007 to 2017, according to the sate. Whereas, hate crimes with an anti-Jewish motivation continue to be the most common within the religion bias category, accounting for 11.1% (1,158) of all hate events reported since 2007. 

However, even though the report does not include specific data on the hate crimes committed during the presidential elections, Mario Quintanilla, a grad student, also believes that the political climate has enabled people to commit more hate crimes.

“If the president of the United States can attack immigrants, Muslims and women, then why can’t the rest of the population?… It’s sad but it’s our reality now,” Quintanilla said.

Hate crime events with anti-black or African American bias motivation continue to be the most common hate crime, accounting for 31.3% (3,262) of all hate crime events since 2007. Also, hate crimes with a sexual orientation bias are the second most common type of hate crime over the last ten years, hate crimes with an anti-gay (male) bias increased 40.7% from 108 in 2015 to 152 is 2016.

“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,” said Attorney General Becerra. Becerra also said that he is 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 to make California a safer space for everyone.