Southern California organizations condemn hate, as attacks against LGBTQ+, Jewish and Muslim communities rise – Orange County Register

Something as simple as walking down the street can become a much more tense moment if you are LGBTQ+, or a person of color.

Because of this, new California data about anti-LGBTQ+ attacks — along with hateful acts against diverse, religious groups — being on the rise is “not surprising,” said Khloe Rios-Wyatt, president and CEO of Alianza Translatinx. The Orange County-based nonprofit supports and provides resources for transgender and gender non-conforming communities.

“There isn’t a lot of support or funding, specifically going towards trans communities of color (who) are most impacted by hate crimes,” Rios-Wyatt said.

New research from the state Department of Justice (DOJ), released annually since 1995, shows that while overall hate crimes across the state were down in 2023, compared to the previous year, reported hate specifically against LGBTQ+, Jewish and Muslim communities rose last year.

Also, while hate crimes against Black Californians went down, that community continues to be the highest reported of any group, consistent with past years’ numbers.

Reported hate crime events decreased 7.1%, from 2,120 in 2022 to 1,970 in 2023, according to the 2023 Hate Crime Report. Still, “too many continue to be unacceptably targeted by hate,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta in a news release.

Across Southern California, many diverse community members struggle to find help, while the organizations that serve them continue their fight against hate, and to make reporting resources known.

Among the key findings from the 2023 California Hate Crime Report include:

  • The overall number of reported hate crime events in the state decreased from 2,474 in 2022 to 2,303 last year.
  • Despite a decline from previous years, Blacks were the most commonly targeted racial group in 2023, with 518 reported incidents.
  • Anti-Jewish bias rose 52.9%, from 189 in 2022 to 289 in 2023.
  • Attacks against Muslim groups rose from 25 in 2022 to 40 in 2023.
  • Hate against the LGBTQ+ community increased 86.4% last year, from 81 in 2022 to 151 in 2023.
  • Anti-transgender bias rose 10.2%, from 59 in 2022 to 65 to 2023.
  • From 2022 to 2023, the number of hate crimes referred for prosecution increased from 647 in 2022 to 679 in 2023.

Race-related hate crimes were the highest reported, at 1,017, with nearly half (518) of reported incidents being against Black people. This was followed by sexual orientation-based hate crimes, which rose from 391 in 2022 to 405 last year.

Notably, hate against Asians — who were frequently targeted during the COVID-19 pandemic — fell between 2022 and 2023, a drop of 10.71% from 140 in 2022 to 125 last year, the report showed.

Religiously-motivated hate crimes rose 30% from 303 in 2022 to 394 in 2023. After the surprise attack on Israel by the militant group Hamas last Oct. 7, which officials said saw hundreds taken captive into Gaza, the ensuing Israeli attacks sparked by the assault have killed more than 34,700 Palestinians, officials said.

As a result, attitudes toward Jewish and Muslim residents have overall suffered, the DOJ report alleges.

Anti-Jewish bias events rose from 189 in 2022, to 289 in 2023 — an increase of 52.9% — while Islamophobia rose from 25 in 2022 to 40 last year.

Leaders from the California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA), a national Muslim advocacy organization, found the report consistent with its own studies of growing Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian bias since the Israel-Hamas war began.

In 2023, CAIR-CA’s civil rights department received over 700 intakes, with 150 alleging Islamophobic, anti-Palestinian, and anti-Arab hate crimes and incidents, officials said, with some reports of physical and verbal attacks, harassment and doxxing. Overall support for a free Palestine was among the record number of complaints to their office.

“We know that hate crimes and hate incidents targeting our communities are underreported, and these numbers do not fully capture the extent of Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian hate our community faces,” said CAIR-LA legal director Amr Shabaik, in a statement. “The report clearly shows that much more work needs to be done to address hate against vulnerable communities in California, starting with the commitment from our elected officials to the safety and well-being of their Muslim, Palestinian and Arab constituents.”

With more reports of local, sometimes violent clashes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine groups, leaders from Jewish community organizations expressed growing antisemitism concerns that could go beyond the war.

Richard Marcus, president and board of directors for Jewish Long Beach, said the new report “makes clear — we have a long way to go.”

“Hate crime reporting is critical, but it only considers twice-verified criminal acts.  It does not consider the creation of spaces inhospitable to Jewish life and daily incidents where students are denigrated or harassed in schools, workers find their rights to express their religious identity taken away, and managers and personnel committees fear hiring, promoting, or even retaining Jewish workers,” Marcus said. “As longstanding bridge-builders, we find no space for hate.”

Violent crimes, such as aggravated assault and intimidation, were among the most commonly reported to the California DOJ — at 1,477 incidents in 2023.

To tie in with the report’s release, Attorney General Bonta issued an updated bulletin to law enforcement agencies throughout the state, with a revised summary of laws targeting hate crimes and hate-motivated acts.

“An attack against one of us is an attack against all of us — there is no place for hate in California. Everyone has a part to play as we continue to fight prejudice and create safer communities,” Bonta said in a video message. “These are more than just statistics on a page, each data point represents real people hurt by hate. We know these numbers only tell part of the story.”

Hate by county

The number of hate crimes and incidents across Southern California last year varied by county, according to the DOJ’s report, which doesn’t go into specifics about the types of hate crimes.

Overall, 91 hate crime events were reported in Orange County in 2023. The highest were in Santa Ana — which has a large population of Latinx people — at 17 incidents, followed by Irvine, with 14.

San Bernardino County, the geographically largest in California, reported 28 hate crime events in 2023, a number that could be inconclusive, officials said. The county Sheriff’s Department was listed as one of the agencies unable to report the full year of data due to issues such as records management or staffing.

Rialto reported six events, followed by Redlands and Chino, which both reported four events.

Riverside County, meanwhile, revealed 35 hate crimes last year, with the highest in Palm Springs (11) and Riverside (9).

Los Angeles County — which according to Census data has the highest population in California, with over 10 million people — reported the most hate crimes in the state, a record 664 last year.

Almost 60% — 397 — occurred in the city of Los Angeles. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department reported 44 hate crimes. Long Beach reported 31 events.

Brian Levin, former head of Cal State San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism and a retired professor of criminal justice, said that the state’s data prompts “a lengthy cautionary notation,” with some agencies — like the Riverside County Sheriff, he called out — barely reporting.

“When final local numbers are available, California actually will have significantly more hate crime totals than those found in the report, and is also likely to mitigate or erase this initial reported overall decline,” Levin said by email.

But he said that the state’s most recent findings reveal a “generally consistent” rise in anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish, anti-LGBTQ and anti-Latino hate crimes.

“We need to establish more resilient  community partnerships and better reporting from both victims and local agencies.”

As underreporting continues, local groups step up

Leaders say hate crimes and attacks, that often go wildly underreported, are usually shared within local circles rather than to law enforcement.

Among some factors that contribute to underreporting include language barriers, mistrust of police, tense relations between officers and vulnerable communities, lack of knowledge of how or where to report hate, agencies not prioritizing hate crime reporting, and more, organizers said.

Khloe Rios-Wyatt, of Orange County’s Alianza Translatinx, said that many trans people of color are not taken as seriously when they do seek out help.

“There’s a fear of going out and reaching out for help because police officers are not very receptive,” she said. “A lot of community members have (said) that when they go and report things to police officers, they usually don’t pay attention to what they have to say, or they dismiss them. Sometimes, they don’t even file the report.”

Rios-Wyatt is hopeful that research from the DOJ’s 2023 Hate Crime Report will be able to garner more support and visibility for those who need it, especially LGBTQ+ people of color.

For many local organizers, one way of helping is through free or low-cost, in-language and accessible programming to communities.

Many of these organizations are building programs, such as Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California’s ongoing bystander intervention trainings, which are offered virtually and in-person in different Asian languages.

CEO Connie Chung Joe said that though the numbers year by year may fluctuate, hate is “still happening” to Asian American and immigrant communities, “especially amongst those with limited English proficiency.” The state report’s data shows that geopolitical issues in other countries impacts people in the U.S., as seen with the rise of anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim biases. She expressed fears that specifically anti-Asian hate could rise again in the U.S..

“Law enforcement at all levels needs to ensure language accessibility and cultural sensitivities to ensure that community members feel safe reaching out for help,” said Chung Joe. “We have a team of advocates who can offer free help in eight Asian languages.”

Other organizations, like the San Gabriel Valley LGBTQ+ Center, are combating hate through programming and community outreach. Leaders are part of the Equality California “Stop the Hate” campaign, and are working with the California Department of Public Health on a needs assessment specifically for the LGBTQ+ community, said Camila Camaleón, the SGV center’s president and board of directors.

“Every queer and trans person involved, whether a board member, volunteer or participant, has personal experience with bias, among other issues (like) workplace discrimination, verbal and physical intimidation, and unfortunately sometimes outright violence,” Camaleón said. “Our presence both online and in the community sends a clear message that hate has no place here.”

Other local efforts — such as the “CA vs. Hate” program — hope to combat rising attacks through mental health resources and statewide events that educate residents on why reporting matters.

Kevin Kish — director of the California Civil Rights Department, which launched the statewide anti-hate campaign in 2023 to focus on hard-to-reach communities — applauded efforts like a recent statewide Pride tour and billboard campaign, “to make sure people know they are not alone.”

“While it’s encouraging to see a reported decrease in overall hate crimes, the increase in hate… shows that there is more work to be done,” Kish said.

Any victim or witness to a hate incident or crime in California can report incidents online at CAvsHate.org, by calling (833) 866-4283, or 833-8-NO-HATE; Monday through Friday from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm. People can also call the 211 hotline for support in more than 200 languages.

L.A. County’s confidential 211 hotline and LA vs. Hate program allows anyone to report, find resources and support. Those in Orange County can report online or through the county’s confidential hotline, 714-480-6580.

Staff writer Gabrielle Gillette and City News Service contributed to this report.


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