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The number of hate crimes reported in California surged more than 17 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to data released in July by the state Department of Justice, the third straight year of double-digit increases. Local law enforcement reported 1,093 hate crimes last year.
California’s surge matches a national trend. A study released earlier this year found hate crimes were on the rise in most of America’s largest cities. The fatal shootings that killed 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue will likely keep the issue front and center as Election Day looms next week.
Crimes perpetrated against people on religious grounds accounted for the largest increase, the report found. Anti-Muslim, anti-Islamic and anti-Jewish hate crimes rose by 21 percent last year, to 207, up from 171 reported in 2016.
Incidents involving a person’s real or perceived sexual orientation jumped nearly 19 percent, with 246 crimes committed last year, compared with 207 the year prior. Crimes against gay males accounted for the largest number, with 172 last year.
Race crimes in California
Race-related crimes increased 16 percent year-over-year, with 602 reported last year.
Those involving anti-Hispanic or anti-Latino bias jumped about 52 percent in 2017, with 126 incidents reported. Crimes involving anti-black or anti-African-American bias jumped more than 20 percent, to 302 crimes.
The 2017 numbers reflect a sharp increase from 2016, when law enforcement agencies reported an 11 percent spike in total hate crimes. The latest report comes roughly a month after a state audit found that California undercounts the incidents.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released the data Monday, a collection of statistics reported by law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies across the state. Of the total hate crimes last year, 383 were referred for prosecution.