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Criminal Justice

Hate Crimes Motivated By White Supremacy Fall in LA, But Don’t Celebrate

Hate is written in spray paint on a brick wall
Latest hate crime report numbers have been released for L.A.
(Hate crime via Shutterstock)
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Hate crimes in L.A. that included evidence of a white supremacist ideology on the part of the attacker fell by nearly 20% in 2021 compared with the year before, but a local expert warns against reading too much into the drop.

The Numbers

There were 96 reported hate crimes with evidence of white supremacist ideology in 2021, compared with 119 in 2020, according to a report by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations.

In all, 786 hate crimes were reported last year — the most in nearly 20 years.

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Why Hate Crimes Tied To White Supremacy Are Hard To Count

To count as such an attack, someone needs to express clear white supremacist ideology while committing a hate crime, explains Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino. He also noted hate crimes in general are notoriously undercounted — often by half.

“That was a difficult category to count,” he said.

That's because many racist extremists are expressing hatred in ways not defined as a crime, Levin said:

“Some of them would rather set up a website or do a rally or a banner display in a public facing way, such as the banner hung recently on the 405 supporting Kanye West’s antisemitism."

Levin said white supremacist communities form online now more than anywhere else.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore says white supremacists in L.A. are acting as individuals, making them hard to follow.

“Organized groups are not something that we see,” he said.

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