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Hate crimes in L.A. County down overall, but anti-Jewish vandalism rises

December 21, 2010 |  3:36 pm

Hate crimes were down in Los Angeles County in 2009 compared with the year before, but such crimes against Jews spiked almost 50%, according to a report released Tuesday.

Last year, there were 580 hate crimes, which can range from vandalism to violence, compared with 730 in 2008, according to the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations.

The improved outlook came despite less rosy data on treatment of the county’s Jewish population: almost 120 hate crimes targeted Jews in 2009, compared with fewer than 80 in 2008.

At least one Jewish group was not alarmed by the data. A statement from the Anti-Defamation League attributed the rise, at least partially, to a spate of “relatively minor” graffiti incidents, many of them perpetrated by serial vandals.

Organization officials pointed to a series of incidents in the Fairfax area in which the word “Jew” or some variance was sprayed onto a number of buildings and trash cans.

Race remained the top motivator for hate crimes, comprising more than half of all incidents, with African Americans still the largest target.

Hate crimes between blacks and Latinos were described as “disturbingly high.” Latinos perpetrated 77% of hate crimes against black victims, and blacks were responsible for almost half of such crimes against Latinos.

The report, which comes out annually, described several hate crimes in the county, some of which were detailed publicly for the first time.

In one incident, a black woman in the Ramona Gardens housing complex was taking out the trash when she was confronted by two Latino men, one of whom used a racial slur and told her they kill blacks “for…fun.” She grabbed her 5-year-old daughter and ran into her unit, according to the report.

In another incident, an elderly Iranian couple in Westwood was driving out of a parking lot and cut off another driver, a white man. He pulled up to their car, and despite an apology from the couple, shouted “Camel jockey, go back to your own country!”

The man followed the couple, spat and eventually tried to open their driver’s side door, fleeing only when the woman called police.

-- Robert Faturechi