Local News

Hate Crimes on the Rise in Orange County

Earlier this year, OC Human Relations published its annual Hate Crimes Report, which showed that Orange County experienced 56 reported hate crimes and 94 hate incidents in 2017. This shows an increase since 2015, and follows an overall national trend in reported hate groups in the US.

To compile their report, the OC Human Relations Commission receives reports from law enforcement, school districts and universities, community-based organizations, and directly from victims.

In California, a hate crime is defined as: “a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim: Disability, Gender, Nationality, Race or Ethnicity, Religion, Sexual Orientation, or association with a person or group of persons with one or more of the preceding actual or perceived characteristics.”

Here’s some data from the report. To read the full report, visit www.ochumanrelations.org/hatecrime.

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In 2017, 13% of the county’s reported hate crimes targeted Muslims, the most frequent victims. When the percentage of Muslim and Middle Eastern targets is combined, they equal 16% of the reported hate crimes (9 victims). This is more than double the number of the past few years and appears to be part of a national trend that also shows an increase of hate crimes targeting Muslim and people who appear to be Middle Eastern.

Members of the Jewish community were the second most frequently targeted group, being 9% of the county’s total hate crime victims. Most of the hate crimes against the Jewish community were vandalism that displayed the swastika symbol.

Hate crimes occurred most frequently in public areas such as parks, shopping centers, streets, etc. (40%), followed by neighborhood residences (23%). Schools, disturbingly, were the most common location for hate incidents to occur, at (23%) of reported hate incidents. The second most frequent locations for hate incidents were in public areas (17%)

In 2017 in Orange County, the most commonly reported hate-based criminal offense was vandalism (34%) followed by simple assaults (13%), criminal threats (9%), and aggravated assaults (7%). These four offenses comprised 63% of all reported hate crimes. 61% of the vandalism-related crimes involved graffiti prominently displaying a swastika.

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The report shows that hate crimes were most frequently motivated by the target’s race, ethnicity and/or national origin (36% of the total); hate crime motivated by religious intolerance (25%) and hate crimes with multiple types of motivation (18%) were the next in frequency.

In contrast to a hate crime, a “hate incident” is behavior that is motivated by hate or bias towards a person’s actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation but is not criminal in nature. Typically, these behaviors are protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of expression.

Reports of hate incidents have increased dramatically in the last two years (2016 & 2017). In 2017, there were 94 Hate Incidents reported in Orange County. This is a second year of an increase – from 43 Hate Incidents reported in 2015, to 72 in 2016.

Examples of hate incidents include: A high school coach bullied a student with anti-Latino rhetoric, a Muslim community organization continued to receive harassing and threatening phone calls that featured xenophobic and Islamophobic language, and An African American man was approached and called the N-word while walking on a bike path at the beach.

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According to Rabbi Rick Steinberg, Chair of the Orange County Human Relations Commission, “We believe that ALL people should live free from harassment, discrimination and violence based on race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, disability or any other arbitrary aspect of their being. Over the last 47 years, OC Human Relations Commission has helped people who have faced prejudice, intolerance and discrimination and sought to educate all residents about bigotry.”

The report lists ways that ordinary residents can prevent hate, and what to do if you are victimized:

What can YOU do to Stop Hate?

-Learn to recognize hate crimes and incidents.

-Report suspected hate crimes and incidents to your local police department and OC Human Relations.

-Maintain a respectful, inclusive climate in your school, community, neighborhood, work, and/or

business.

-Create diverse teams to encourage people to work together on common goals.

-Model respect and inclusion towards others, especially when you are around children.

-Offer support and assist victims to let them know they are not alone.

-Speak out against acts of prejudice, discrimination, and hate in your community

What Should I do if I’m Victimized?

1. Call the police or sheriff’s department immediately and make a report.

2. Obtain medical attention, if needed. Be sure to keep all medical documentation.

3. Leave all evidence in place. Do not touch, remove and/or clean up anything.

4. Document what happened by taking photographs of the evidence, writing down exactly what was said, particularly any words that indicate bias, motivation, and other information that may be valuable.

5. Get the name(s), address(es) and phone number(s) of other victims and witnesses.

6. If possible, write down a description of the perpetrator and the perpetrator’s vehicle.

7. Report the occurrence to OC Human Relations at (714) 480-6570 or submit a hate

crime report online at: www.ochumanrelations.org/hatecrime

 

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