LOS ANGELES (KNX) — A study from Crosstown at USC, a nonprofit news organization based at USC Annenberg School of Journalism, shows the City of Los Angeles is n on track to shatter a previous disturbing record for the number of hate crimes.
That record was set last year with nearly 600 hate crimes reported to the Los Angeles Police Department. This year, figures indicate the city is on pace for more than 700. In the first six months of 2022, LAPD records show 349 hate crimes reported — a 16.9% spike from the same time frame in 2021.
LAPD defines hate crimes as any instance in which a victim is targeted based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.
May saw the most-ever hate crimes reported in one month, with 78 incident reports. June claimed the second place spot with 71 hate crimes.
L.A. averaged between 20 and 40 hate crimes per month before the pandemic, Crosstown said.
"African American Angelenos are by far the victims of hate motivated attacks more than any other group in Los Angeles," said Carter Hyde, a Crosstown L.A. reporter, citing numbers from the study.
Hyde said 2022 is no different, and L.A. is on track to hit another record in reported hate crimes.
"So, 2021 was a record breaking year with 596 reported hate crimes in the City of Los Angeles, and what's even more worrisome is that those numbers are going during the first half of this year," Hyde said.
Professor Brian Levin, Director for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, said any way you slice it, the latest data is not good news.
"Our studies showed that hate crimes in L.A. the first half of the year were flat. Our friends at USC showed a bit more. Some of that is due to the preliminary nature of the data," the professor said.
Still, Levinson said even with the slight discrepancies, hate crimes are, in fact, on an upward trend.
"Either way, in 2021, LAPD had the highest number of hate crimes in 2001," Levinson said.
So, the question that many are asking is why and what are the potential factors.
"I think we're seeing this because of a couple of things. When hate crimes get elevated, they stay higher for longer. So, there's a longer half life," Professor Levinson said. "I think that's due to the socio-political discourse and the stickiness of online infective, online hate."
The professor pointed to the protests over George Floyd's murder at the hands of a Minneapolis Police officer as an example of what can trigger spikes in hate.
"The use of the n-word on Twitter went up. Additionally, we also saw hate crimes go up," he said.
Crosstown also said many hate crime cases remain unreported, so the numbers are likely much higher.