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Criminal Justice

LA County Posts Largest Number Of Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Since 2001

A color map of Los Angeles County, with dozens of red triangles denoting municipalities where anti-Asian hate crimes have been reported.
In L.A. County, 45% of reported hate crimes took place in the city of L.A., with a “significant cluster” in the South Bay.
( Courtesy L.A. County Commission on Human Relations)
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In March of 2020, a Chinese man was punched three times in the face while waiting at a bus stop after being ordered to "Go back where you came from, you f****** Chinese!"

Later that month, a Vietnamese woman found "F*** Chinese C19" scratched into the hood of her car. A window was shattered, her tires punctured, the dashboard and seats slashed.

[Note: the full profanity was used in these messages.]

In November of that year, a man of Indian descent was attacked by a group of men who kicked him repeatedly in the head as one suspect yelled, “Indians should go back to India!” Another one stole the victim’s wallet.

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The L.A. County Commission on Human Relations says these are among the 44 hate crimes reported against Asians last year, a 76% increase from 25 cases in 2019. Suspects in one-fifth of the incidents blamed victims for spreading COVID-19.

As the pandemic led to finger-pointing at China and racist rhetoric from prominent conservative politicians, Asian Americans were scapegoated in hate crimes in L.A. County at rates not seen since 2001. That year there were 80 anti-Asian hate crimes, 38 of which came after the September 11 terrorist attacks led to the targeting of South Asian residents perceived to be Muslim or of Middle Eastern descent.

Other findings from 2020:

  • Three-quarters of the crimes involved physical violence, compared to 58 percent two years earlier. 
  • In instances where a suspect was identified, 42% were white, followed by Latinos at 36% and African Americans at 19%. The commission says this is significant to note “because nationally there has been speculation that African Americans were most frequently suspects in anti-Asian crimes.” 
  • The share of female victims rose from 29% to 41%. In 2020, female victims tripled from five to 15.  
  • The median age of victims rose from 30 to 41. Victims included two senior citizens and two minors, ages 11 and 12.
  • 45% of the hate crimes took place in L.A., with a “significant cluster” in the South Bay.

Despite the rise in documented cases, the commission maintains crimes are still underreported because of linguistic and cultural barriers and immigration status. Community leaders have also cited fear of police and unwanted attention.

Have a question about Southern California's Asian American communities?
Josie Huang reports on the intersection of being Asian and American and the impact of those growing communities in Southern California.