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City Attorney's Office Has Seen A Threefold Increase In Hate Incidents Since Last Year

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City Attorney Mike Feuer speaking on Friday. (Photo by Julia Wick/LAist)
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On Friday, City Attorney Mike Feuer held a press conference about the recent rise in hate crimes and hate speech across the country, and last weekend's tragedy in Charlottesville. The city attorney strongly condemned President Trump during his speech, saying that Trump has "helped to normalize, embolden and give license to the neo-Nazis" and other hate groups currently surging across the country. Feuer also revealed that hate crimes and hate incidents in the city of Los Angeles have increased starkly over the past year, although the actual numbers remain relatively low.

"In our office, the raw and absolute numbers of hate crimes that have been reported to us for us to investigate have gone up by a factor of three in the past year," Feuer said, adding that "the absolute numbers remain low."

The L.A. City Attorney's office received and reviewed 32 hate crime/hate incident investigations between January 1, 2017 and August 17, 2017, which is almost three times as many incidents as during roughly the same period last year. Those 32 incidents mark an 190.9% increase over the 11 hate crime/hate incidents that were reviewed by the office from January 1, 2016 to August 31, 2016.

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The increase could actually be even higher because of potential underreporting, which Feuer attributes to the climate of fear created by the Trump administration. "I very strongly suspect that there has been a tremendous amount of underreporting of hate crime allegations because of the atmosphere that this administration has created among immigrant communities, in the Muslim American community," Feuer said.

Of those 32 incidents between January of this year and now, nine of those incidents were ultimately filed by Special Trials as non-hate crime prosecutions (vandalism, assault, etc.) and one incident was filed and convicted as a hate crime. Several remain under filing review. The City Attorney's office also only deals with misdemeanors; felony crimes would be handled by the Los Angeles County District Attorney. The District Attorney's office was not immediately able to provide information on whether they had seen a rise in hate crimes so far this year. We will update this story when more information becomes available.

"The largest concentration of white supremacist gangs is in California, not the deep south," Feuer said on Friday, echoing a recent Southern Poverty Law Center report that awarded California the ignominious honor of having the most hate active groups of any state in the nation.