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Overall number of hate crimes drops in L.A. County but crimes against gays increase, new report says

Los Angeles County saw an overall 4% drop in hate crimes last year, while crimes against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people increased, prompted in part by last November’s highly charged Proposition 8 initiative, the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in California, according to a new report released today.

There were 134 sexual-orientation hate crimes reported last year, up from 111 in 2007, and were more likely to be violent than hate crimes motivated by race or religion, according to the annual Hate Crime Report by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations.

“I am very sad to be here today because my presence means that my community – lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people – were horribly impacted by hate crimes in 2008,” Lorri Jean, chief executive of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, said at a news conference.

"Anti-gay and anti-transgender hate crimes do not happen in a vacuum," she said, "they happen in the context of a society that still tolerates and even promotes discrimination against us.”

Robin Toma, executive director of the Human Relations Commission, said the data underscored the importance of the recent passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which extends federal hate crimes protection to victims of sexual orientation crimes.

Much of the overall decrease in hate crimes was connected with a 16% decline in racially motivated crimes. Some of those racial crimes, however, were tied to the presidential campaign Barack Obama.

Across the country there were numerous cases of vandalism, displays of nooses and acts of intimidation, and in Los Angeles eight cases were reported in which homes, cars and other property displaying Obama signs or stickers were vandalized with swastikas or racial slurs, Toma said.

“While hate crimes targeting African Americans decreased, they still remain by far the largest group of hate crime victims,” Toma said. “They are 61% of racial hate crime victims and yet comprise only 9% of the county population.”

Latino victims remained the second-largest targeted group and the percentage of crimes against them remained the same. Crimes targeting Asians, Middle Easterners, Armenians and whites declined.  

Although religious hate crimes rose 14%, that increase is attributed to 15 crimes targeting the Church of Scientology, Toma said. Two thirds of those crimes were similar threatening letters sent to various church branches that were likely from the same individual, he said.

“Every year this report provides a startling snapshot of the face of hatred in Los Angeles County,” said Sandra Thomas, president of the commission. She said the report is used by law enforcement officials for training purposes and for directing resources.

--Raja Abdulrahim

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Comments () | Archives (15)

I just got my window shot by a BB Gun. My partner and I have been called names in our neighborhood just because we are gay. This increased after Prop. 8 passed.

Thanks a lot christians!

Just because your windows were shot out doesn't mean they culprits were Christians. Non-Christian voters also voted in favor of Prop 8.

Pachecosita, Have you ever stopped to think that you and your partner are just disliked because you just aren't good people, not because your gay? Be secure of what you are. By the way I voted for gay people not to marrie.

Your Welcome. I'm very Christian!

How can people tell what a hate crime is? If you disagree with some gays, some consider that a hate crime. Its just a disagreement. Some gays I know are very emotional, some great, some obnoxious most are just like you and me.

But some are radicals with attitudes like(I am gay and I am here to stay, So deal with it). I hadn't even thought about some one being gay as unusual. But the attitude just pisses me off! I really don't care to dealwith some ones self preceived problem.
There are two types of people in this world good and bad period. If you are good fine and if you are bad I don't want to have any thing to do with you. It has nothing to do with sexual preference!!
I voted for Prop 8. That is what I believe is right. Its not hate! Its a different view!!!

when you look at that number, and consider that we live in a city of 10 million people, its actually a very low #. Compare that # with ANY other crime # in this city...Hit and runs, car jackings, muggings, rapes, break ins..... I bet 134 people get robbed in this city every day! While I dont condone hate crimes, or any crime, that # should actually make people feel very safe in this city.

The last acceptable form of hate. We have such a long way to go.

The homophobes will blame the gays for the increase in violence against them. Just watch.

I wonder what constitutes a hate crime? If I write a letter to my legislator stating my unhappiness with the health care reform package, am I being hateful towards Democrats? More broadly, am I being hateful towards those who do not have health insurance?

The point is, what is being labeled as a hate crime? Writing letters to those who you have a disagreement with, for the purpose of debating their opinion, is not hateful. In fact, it's a right guaranteed by the first amendment. As a society, we have the right to publicly debate the issues at hand and because one group opposes an issue does not make them discrimatory. And quite frankly, I am tired of our legislators passing bills making certain thoughts illegal. With our current congress and President, we are getting ever closer to being a society matching those predictions made by Orwell in his book, "1984".

None of the Christian I know would harass gay folks. They are gay.
Why lump transsexuals together with gay people; they have nothing in common. Why not lump them together with Latin American mestizos, for example.

The fruits of faith-based hate! Thanks Christo-fascists! I guess modern Christianity has no place for non-judgment, compassion or loving your neighbor.
How sad.

"What is a hate crime?" The story makes pretty clear we're talking about violence and intimidation, not letter-writing. In fact, it also notes that crimes against gays and lesbians are more likely to be violent. Now, I've never heard of "violent" letter-writing, so lets not have these red-herrings.

This is the evidence that all that talk about "angry militant homosexuals" this past year was just that - talk. You saw a guy knock a cross out of a woman's hand on the news? Sure, that's because "Man bites dog" makes news. This report shows us that far more often, dog still bites man.

Hate crimes are those that terrorize a whole segment of society. Whether inadvertently or perceive they increase the sense of fear in that said segment.
It is pretty stupid to think that writing a letter or telling someone you hate them would instantly be a hate crime.

Dude nobody likes everybody. You don't need to shout it out for the world to see. There are plenty of people that are just plain irritating. For me it's the ones who selectively use the bible for a moral compass. You can't pick and choose.

Straight here and I'm one of the 48% California resident who voted for marriage equality.

A hate crime is an act of terrorism.

Will hate crimes against whites increase again? I hope so.

You obviously don't know what it's like being the target of a hate crime to talk with such arrogancy. Search Google to find out what a real hate crimes looks like, it takes you 5 seconds.
While it's true that not all those who voted against gay marriage are religious fundamentalists, it's also true that those like you were "The Base" of the bigoted campaign. maybe that's why you're fundamentalists; maybe you need to hide behind the Cross to hide the Devil's mark, don't you?...
Me, I grew up in a Catholic household and was taught that those who reject the Holy Trinity go to hell. That goes to show that the word "Christian" really has a very relative meaning with many possible meanings, isn't it? What's "Truth" for you, others who worship the same religious texts may disagree!


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