November 20, 2017
Hate crimes jump 11 percent in California
The number of hate crimes reported in California jumped about 11 percent in 2016, a spike some experts who monitor such bias activity say has a correlation to the election of President Trump.

In California, the number of hate crimes increased from 837 in 2015 to 931 in 2016, accounting for an 11.2 percent rise, according to statistics released Monday by the FBI.

The stats show there were 60 more hate crimes in 2016 than in 2015 in the Bay Area’s nine counties, with the most reported in Alameda, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties.

The FBI statistics are based on reporting agencies that volunteer to their information, said Prentice Danners of the FBI in San Francisco. In California, 733 law enforcement agencies provided numbers for the annual report. The victims included individuals, businesses, government entities and religious organizations.

Most of the crimes were motivated by a victim’s race or religion, but in San Francisco the bulk of victims were targeted because of their sexual orientation. Most of the crimes both statewide and nationally were reported in the fourth quarter of the year from October to December, or shortly after Trump was elected president.

The worst month for hate crimes in California was November, said Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

Levin said one of the key factors that drove up the figures both nationally and statewide was the election cycle, in which Trump proposed banning Muslims from some countries from entering the United States, vowed to build a wall on the Mexican border and labeled Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists.

He said there was double digit increase in anti-Latino, anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT crimes.

Most of the crimes occurred in large cities. In San Francisco, hate crimes increased by about 24 percent from 2015 to 2016. Nine crimes targeting a victim’s sexual orientation were committed in 2015 compared to 14 in 2016.

“In San Francisco, the number one target were gays similar to Seattle and Washington D.C., but in other cities, it varied,” Levin said.

Alameda County reported 59 hate crimes overall with the most in San Leandro at 22, 15 of which were based on a victim’s race or ethnicity, and 17 in Berkeley — nine of which were based on race.

In 2015, San Leandro reported only two hate crimes that were based on race and there were zero in Berkeley.

Oakland had nine hate crimes in 2016, three related to race, three based on sexual orientation and three focusing on religion.

There were 18 hate crimes in Contra Costa County, with the most in Richmond where four incidents were motivated by a victim’s race or ethnicity.

There were eight crimes in Solano County, five in Marin County, one in Napa County, six in Sonoma County and 13 in San Mateo County, according to the FBI.

Santa Clara County also reported a high number of hate crimes in 2016 when compared to 2015 with 14 and 39 respectively.

San Jose, which includes San Jose State University, had the highest number of incidents in Santa Clara County with 15 racial, seven religious and two based on an individual’s sexual orientation, totaling 24. In 2015, San Jose reported eight total incidents.

Nationally, the number of hate crimes last year rose by 4.6 percent with 6,121 reported hate crimes compared to 5,850 in 2015, according to the FBI.
Nearly 59 percent of the crimes targeted a victim based on their race with over 50 percent directed at African Americans. Crimes targeting a victim based on religion were 21.1 percent and 16.7 percent targeted victims based on their sexual orientation.

“This is the second worst year for anti-Muslim hate crimes, only eclipsed by 2001 (when the the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred),” Levin said. “Nationally, we see double the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes since 2014 approximately.”

Zahra Billoo, the director of the Council on American Islamic Relations in the San Francisco Bay Area, said the numbers presented by the FBI weren’t surprising. But what’s concerning, she said, is that agencies are not required to report hate crimes to the FBI, which results in under reporting.

“This is not the America that we want to build together,” Billoo said. “This data, even though we worry is not the full picture, is still an important picture for everyone to have.” (Source: The San Francisco Chronicle)
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