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December 8, 2022 11:43 am

LA Hate Crimes Highest in 19 Years, Jews Targeted in 74% of Religiously Motivated Crimes: Report


avatar by Andrew Bernard

The Los Angeles skyline at night. Photo: Stig Nygaard/Flickr.

Los Angeles County’s annual hate crime report released Wednesday showed that in 2021 LA experienced the highest level of hate crimes in 19 years, with religious crimes “overwhelmingly” targeting Jews.

The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, a government body that reports to the Board of Supervisors, recorded a 23% increase in reported hate crimes last year, from 641 to 786.

Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA-28), whose district includes large parts of Los Angeles, told The Algemeiner that this “unprecedented surge” is deeply troubling. “The rising number of acts of violence against Black, Asian, and LGBTQ+ Angelenos are horrifying, and tragically mirror the awful mass shootings and targeted attacks we have seen in Buffalo, Colorado Springs, and other cities across the nation,” Schiff said. “I am also particularly disturbed that Jewish Angelenos were victims of an overwhelming number of the religiously-motivated hate crimes, especially as antisemitic vitriol has reached a fever pitch in recent weeks. As this report shows, there is no room for silence or ambivalence on these matters – we must all condemn bigotry and lies wherever we see them, because the consequences of inaction are too great to bear.”

Religiously-motivated offenses spiked 29% over the previous year, from 86 to 111, with 74% of those incidents targeting the Jewish community. That number does not include crimes motivated by white supremacy, where Jews were once again the most targeted group with 45% of incidents, or “Crimes Related to Terrorism or Conflict in the Middle East,” a category in which every recorded incident in 2021 targeted Jews.

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The report notes that that marks a significant shift, as crimes in that category in previous years were largely directed at Muslims or Middle Easterners. The report gives an example of one such attack from last year. “Five Jewish men were dining at an outdoor restaurant. They observed a caravan of vehicles with Palestinian flags. Suddenly, 3 men jumped out of a jeep and ran toward the victims. They shouted, ‘Do you support Palestine?’ and ‘Are you f— Jewish?’ They punched and kicked the five victims and threw glass bottles at them.”

Robin Toma, the commission’s Executive Director, said that while some of the increase in hate crimes may be due to better reporting encouraged by a local LA program, the nationwide spike in hate crimes suggests that what’s happening in LA is not a reporting aberration.

“The year 2021 began with a violent assault on the U.S. Capitol, led in part by white nationalist groups,” Toma said. “The shocking revolt was evidence of not only growing political polarization, but a country deeply divided along lines of race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender. Against this backdrop, hate crimes across the nation, including L.A. County, skyrocketed in 2021.”

The FBI and national Jewish groups have also recorded spikes in hate crimes and an increase in the number of such crimes targeting Jews. FBI Director Christopher Wray in November testified to Congress that antisemitism was the motivation in 63% of all religiously motivated crimes, while the Anti-Defamation League’s Audit of Antisemitic Incidents 2021 published in March recorded the highest level of antisemitic incidents since the ADL began tracking them in 1979.

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