Hate crimes are down overall in Los Angeles this year, but violent hate crimes are trending up

by in News

After a few years of sharp double-digit increases, the city of Los Angeles saw hate crimes decline by 6.8 percent in the first half of 2018, according the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

However, violent hate crimes bucked that overall drop, rising 8.3 percent, increasing from 72 to 78 incidents. In contrast, violent crime in general dropped 2.8 percent in Los Angeles, according to the study, which looks at hate crime statistics in the nation’s 12 major cities.

While the drop in hate crimes, in general, is to be welcomed, 2018 still remains the second-worst year for hate crimes in a decade, said Brian Levin, the center’s director.

“When it comes to hate crimes in Los Angeles, we see there’s a drop in crimes such as vandalism, but an increase in assaults and threats,” he said. “This is cause for concern especially as we head into a contentious mid-term election and there is ongoing Russian interference.”

Incidents of vandalism spurred by hate dropped by 15.6 percent. Assaults rose 15.6 percent while criminal threats increased slightly — by three incidents from 22 to 25.

Hate crime enhancements

In Orange County, hate crime enhancements were filed Aug. 2 against Samuel Woodward, an alleged member of white power group Atomwaffen Division, in the murder of 21-year-old Blaze Bernstein who was gay and Jewish.

Woodward, 21, is accused of stabbing to death Bernstein, whose body was found in a shallow grave at Borrego Park in Lake Forest early this year.

The FBI defines hate crimes as criminal offenses “motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity or gender identity.”

New York led the nation’s largest cities with 164 hate crimes in the first half of 2018 while Los Angeles was second with 124.

Both cities saw overall declines in hate crimes in 2018.