The Beverly Hills Human Relations Commission met on Jan. 21, reviewing key findings from the 2019 Los Angeles County hate crimes report. The meeting came during a week marked by vandalism at Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Spray painted graffiti was discovered outside the Koreatown synagogue on Jan. 18, prompting the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to open a hate crime investigation. Police said surveillance video showed an unidentified male in a hooded sweatshirt spray-painting the outside of the building with graffiti. KTLA5 reported that the vandal wrote the words “I hate your race” on the wall, with exclamation points punctuated with crosses.
A religious leader with national influence–as well as the Senior Rabbi of Wilshire Boulevard–Steve Leder appeared in the Courier’s Jan. 8 and Jan.15 issues for a two-part interview.
“After declining for two years in a row, white supremacist crimes jumped 38 percent,” Marshall Wong from the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations said during the meeting. “And most frequently, these were swastikas or other hate symbols that appeared in graffiti on public or private property.”
“We documented 524 hate crimes in L.A. County in 2019, only one more than the previous year,” Wong said. “Hate crimes in L.A. County hit a low in 2013, and since they have been slowly rising and has increased 36 percent, which is cause for concern.”
The L.A. County Commission on Human Relations has been collecting and analyzing data on hate crime since 1980, and their annual report is one of the longest standing efforts on the part of a United States governmental agency to study the phenomenon of hate crime happening in our own backyard.
According to the Commission, in any given year, hate crimes motivated by race comprise of about half of all crimes. African Americans were again the largest group of victims. The second largest number of racial hate crime victims were Latinos.
The largest victim groups targeted are African Americans, gay men and lesbians, Jews and Latinos. Of the four largest groups, only anti-Jewish crimes increased in 2019.
The total number of hate crimes reported in Beverly Hills in 2019 is eight, which is a slight increase from five reported in 2018. Of those eight, five were motivated by religion, two by race, and one victim was targeted because of sexual orientation. Of the five motivated by religion, four were targeting the Jewish community and one targeting Catholics. Latinos, gay men and Middle Easterners were also targeted. The most common criminal offense was vandalism, followed by simple assaults and cases of intimidation or threats of violence.
“The second largest category by motivation is religious crimes,” Wong said. “Which actually grew 11 percent and comprise of 19 percent of all hate crimes. And the overwhelming majority, 89 percent, of these crimes were anti-Jewish. Sexual Orientation crimes also comprise 19 percent. Anti-transgender crimes, which make up the great majority of the gender and gender identity crimes, rose 64 percent from 25 to 41, the largest number ever reported.”
The largest number of hate crimes in comparison to the total population took place in the Metro Service Planning Area (SPA), which stretches from West Hollywood, Hollywood, Mid-Wilshire, Downtown L.A. and Boyle Heights. The second largest number of hate crimes occurred in the San Fernando Valley SPA, which includes Beverly Hills, L.A., Santa Monica and a number of the affluent beach communities. This marks the fourth year in a row that the West SPA had the second largest rate of hate crimes.