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LA Sees Increases in Anti-Asian and Anti-Transgender Crimes

A sign at a protest in front of City Hall reads "Racism - The Real Pandemic." Chava Sanchez/LAist
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Some types of hate crimes declined in L.A. County from 2018 to 2019, but several others increased, according to a report released today by the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission.

The overall number remained essentially flat, going from 523 to 524. But last year's total still marked the highest number in a decade.

“We are painfully aware that the annual total has gone up for six consecutive years and has increased 36% in that time,” said Robin Toma, the commission's executive director.

Hate crimes against Blacks, Latinos and whites decreased, according to the report. But it found:

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  • Anti-transgender crimes were up 64% over 2018
  • White supremacist crimes increased 38% over 2018
  • Religious crimes were up 11% over 2018 (89% were anti-Semitic)
  • Anti-Middle Eastern crimes increased 142% over 2018
  • Anti-Asian crimes were up 32% over 2018

The report represents pre-pandemic numbers. But based on calls coming in to the county’s 211 L.A. vs. Hate hotline, Toma said 2020 will probably see an increase in both anti-Asian hate acts and overall.

“We absolutely are seeing rhetoric coming from a number of our elected officials which is driving up hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” said Manjusha Kulkarni, executive director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council.

Pointing to what she described as the Trump administration's xenophobic policies, and pre-pandemic hate and animosity ginned up by elected officials, Kulkarni said she believes the Asian American and Pacific Islander community is seeing the return of the “Yellow Peril”-type “racist rhetoric that has been used against our communities since the 1800s."

Speaking for the city of Los Angeles, LAPD Deputy Chief Kris Pitcher said the “statistical rise of hate crimes involving the Asian community” has been notable in 2020.

“Following the identification of the coronavirus in China earlier this year, hate crimes against Asians increased from seven in the first three quarters of 2019 to 14 during the same time period in 2020,” Pitcher said.

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L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said last year her office filed charges related to 64 hate crimes, which was a 20% decrease from the number prosecuted in 2018.

“But unfortunately, Los Angeles County appears to be seeing the same uptick in hate crime attacks as the rest of our country,” Lacey said.

County officials are urging anyone who is a victim of, or witness to, acts motivated by hate or disctrimination to call the L.A. vs. Hate hotline at 211.

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