For the third year in a row, hate crimes have increased in California.
A report released on Monday by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra claimed that attacks on minority groups increased by 17 percent in 2017 amid consistently incendiary rhetoric from the White House.
Latinos were, by and large, the most impacted population: Bias attacks on Latinos spiked by 52 percent during President Trump’s first year in office. Over the Fourth of July holiday, 91-year-old Los Angeles resident Rodolfo Rodriguez suffered two broken ribs and a busted cheekbone after his face was beaten with a brick. While bloodying his face, the attacker told him to “go back to [his] country.”
Christopher Sanchez of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights claimed the results weren’t a surprise.
“This rhetoric continues to target immigrant communities and here in California, we know a significant population are Latinos, and therefore [it's] not surprising to see what we see at the national level,” Sanchez told KOVR, Sacramento’s local CBS affiliate.
While attacks against Muslims remained static, anti-LGBTQ hate crimes ticked up 3.2 percent in 2017—increasing to 172 after just 152 reported incidents a year earlier.
Although California is known as a liberal safe haven for queer and trans people, the shifting tides under the current administration were made evident by an attack on the Los Angeles LGBTQ Center in March last year. Vandals spray-painted the phrases “Fuck trannies” and “Fuck all y’all” on the side of the building.
Earlier this year, the Sacramento LGBTQ Center received death threats.
These incidents represented just a fraction of more than a dozen assaults on queer resource centers across the U.S. since Trump’s 2016 election, which included attacks in Florida, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.
Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur claimed these results “illustrate how much work is left to be done right here in California.”
“These tragic statistics are just one piece of the story,” Zbur said in a statement. “Behind these numbers are parents and siblings and children, students and teachers, coworkers and neighbors—people who deserve to live safe and healthy lives with equal dignity and respect. We owe it to them to continue doing everything we can to end the epidemic of hate and violence in our state and in our nation.”
But even with the sharp increase in bias attacks, hate crimes against the LGBTQ community in California are likely to have been underreported.
In May, an audit of state law enforcement agencies between the years of 2014 and 2016 showed that police often failed to report hate crimes to the FBI or mislabeled the incidents in question. State Auditor Elaine Howle claimed that law enforcement has “not been doing enough to identify, report, and respond to these crimes.”
An Associated Press report from 2016 showed that the underreporting of hate crimes remains a national problem. More than 2,700 local police departments around the country had failed to submit a single hate crime report to the FBI over the past six years, representing 17 of all city and county agencies.
The California Attorney General pledged that authorities would work to address these issues—creating a state where everyone can feel safe.
“An attack motivated by hate against one of us is an attack on all of us,” Becerra claimed in a press release. “We must strive to make California a place of tolerance—hate crimes have no place here.”
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