Anti-Black, gay, Asian bias fuel California hate crime surge

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California Attorney General Rob Bonta, right, discusses the rise in hate crimes in California, Tuesday, June 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Hate crimes driven by homophobia and racism resulted in a 33% surge in reported incidents in California last year, following a similar spike in hate-driven attacks the year prior and confirming what officials have been hearing anecdotally since the pandemic began, the state’s attorney general said Tuesday.

Attorney General Rob Bonta said that crimes against Black people were again the most prevalent in 2021, climbing 13% from 2020 to 513 reported incidents. Hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation bias increased nearly 50% to 303 incidents while crimes against Asian Americans were up 178% to 247 incidents.

“One hard truth in our state, just as we see across the nation, is that the epidemic of hate we saw spurred on during the pandemic remains a clear and present threat,” said Bonta, a Democrat, at a news conference. “Each of these incidents represents an attack on a person, a neighbor, a family member, a fellow Californian.”

The 1,763 hate crimes reported in 2021 was the sixth highest tally since the department began collecting and reporting data statewide in 1995. It is also the highest since 2001, when 2,261 hate crimes fueled by the 9/11 terrorist attacks were reported in California.

Last year’s annual report showed a similarly high increase — 31% — with anti-Black bias making up the bulk of incidents in a state where African Americans are 6% of the population. The 2020 report also showed a startling increase in bias crimes against Asian Americans following the emergence of the coronavirus in China.

Learn more about the types of hate crimes that are happening.

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