Hate crimes hit 5-year high in L.A.

LOS ANGELES The annual report for hate crimes in 2007 is not an all time high, but shows a disturbing increase in the most targeted groups -- blacks, gays, lesbians and Jews.

"Let me begin with what is troubling news. The number of hate crimes reported in L.A. County in 2007 rose 28 percent. This increase is particularly troubling because this rise in hate crimes runs contrary to a drop in general crime in Los Angeles County," said Robin Toman, Exec. Director Human Relations Commission.

The County Human Relations Commission breaks down the 763 reported hate crimes for 2007, identifying the incidents of violence between blacks and Latinos -- who are the second-most targeted ethnic group.

"The hostility between blacks and Latinos is behind one of the most frequently reported kinds of hate crimes in L.A. County. As in the past years a great majority of anti-black crimes were committed by Latinos, 71 percent " said Toman.

L.A. County's African-American population is 9 percent and yet it suffered 58 percent of ethnic hate crime in the report.

Hate crime is still a portion of overall crime and some suggest that the increase is due in part to the worsening economy.

Gangs are also a factor in 16 percent of the reported hate crimes. How much race plays into gang violence is a subject of debate. The L.A. County sheriff believes race plays a part, but L.A.'s police chief disagrees.

One in 10 hate crime victims was a Jew or a Jewish institution, with swastikas reported at a large number of the incidents.

From the Anti-Defamation League a commissioner considers why hate is attractive to the young.

"I really do think this targeting of youngsters with the message of hate is almost a campaign to make hate hip," said Amanda Susskind, ADL Regional Director.

The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations has compiled an annual hate crimes report since 1980.


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