Violent bigotry on rise in area
Hate crimes soar 26%, panel finds
December 14, 2006
Hate crimes in northern Los Angeles County surged nearly 45 percent last year, fueled by anti-immigrant sentiment, white supremacist activity and racial tension in schools, jails and neighborhoods, officials said Thursday.
Bucking national and statewide trends - and reversing three years of declines - the number of hate crimes countywide hit 633, with about half involving violence, according to the report by the county’s Human Relations Commission.
North county communities - including Lancaster, Palmdale and Santa Clarita - reported 75 crimes, up from 52 in 2004, statistics show.
Much of the countywide increase was driven by hate crimes against blacks, which rose 47 percent - from 156 to 230 - while anti-Latino incidents surged 179 percent - from 19 to 53. Specifically anti-Mexican crimes rose 71 percent, from 41 to 70.
In contrast, the number of hate crimes statewide dropped 6 percent last year and the number nationwide dropped 8 percent.
“We see additional evidence of the tension between the (Latino and black) communities in the widespread occurrence of brawls in the county jails, juvenile detention facilities and public schools,” said Robin Toma, executive director of the county’s
Human Relations Commission.
The data showed that gang members were responsible for five of the six hate-motivated attempted murders last year. Nearly 80 percent of the racially motivated crimes involved mostly Latino gangs targeting blacks without provocation, authors of the report said.
In addition to racial violence spilling out of the jails and juvenile halls onto the streets, the report found a disturbing escalation in racial hate crimes on or near school campuses.
Racial crimes at schools more than tripled, from 18 to 64. Most involved conflicts between blacks and Latinos, primarily in South Los Angeles, but some also took place at Sylmar and North Hollywood high schools.
“I’m not happy to see there is an increase in ethnic hate crimes involving African-Americans and Latinos,” county Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke said. “The only way we are going to stop this is to get to the core of some of the feelings behind this.”…..