Los Angeles County registered its largest number of hate crimes since 2009, according to a new report.
The largest number of hate crimes happened in the Los Angeles metro area, which spans from West Hollywood to Boyle Heights. More than 500 hate crimes were reported in L.A.County in 2018, a 2.6% increase from 2017 and 36% from a 23-year low in 2013.
African Americans are over-represented as victims of hate crimes, according to the 2018 Hate Crime Report. The report also shows that crimes against the Latino population rose for the fourth year in a row, most of them involving anti-immigrant slurs. Sexual orientation hate crimes are also on an uptick.
At a Wednesday press conference, officials read one example which happened to an 11-year-old while she was walking on her middle school campus. A man asked her if she was a lesbian and then said, "because if you are we will find you and kill you."
Religious crimes declined as well as those where there was evidence of white supremacist ideology.
County leaders said the upward trend signifies a need for them to take more action.
"What we want to do is expand our partnerships to include many more faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, city agencies who are involved in being trained and know how to reach out to those communities and receive reports of hate and then, most importantly, act on it, " Executive Director of the L.A. County Human Relations Commission Robin Toma said.
Jessy Needham works for The California Conference for Equality and Justice, an organization that offers resources on what a hate crime is and how to respond.
"Many people feel quite helpless if they experience hate violence or a hate incident. And we hope that people feel empowered to speak up when they've experienced these incidents," Needham said.