L.A. County Reports 11% Rise in Religious Hate Crime

In its recently released 2019 Hate Crime Report, the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations (LACCHR) analyzed and presented crime data submitted by law enforcement, community-based organizations and educational institutions, which together revealed that violent hate crime last year reached a 10-year high in L.A. County—with religious hate crimes rising 11 percent.

“Historically, crimes motivated by religion have nearly always been the third largest category after crimes motivated by race and sexual orientation. However, in 2019, they exceeded the number of sexual orientation crimes,” wrote the report’s authors. 

Los Angeles
Los Angeles (Photo by Chones/Shutterstock.com)

LACCHR reported that the majority of antireligious hate crimes targeted the Jewish community, with anti-Semitic acts accounting for 89 percent of all religious hate crimes in 2019. Anti-Semitic crime rose 18 percent last year. 

Islamophobic crime followed at 7 percent, with anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, anti-Latter-day Saints and anti-Scientology hate crimes falling at 2 percent or below. 

“STAND is deeply disturbed by the dramatic increase in hate crime of all forms in Los Angeles County.”

Up from 25 percent, 32 percent of religious hate crimes were of a violent nature last year, with the rate of violent antireligious crime hitting its highest since 2005. 

According to California state law, an illegal act constitutes a hate crime if bias, hatred or prejudice based on the victim’s race/ethnicity, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender or sexual orientation is a substantial factor in the aggressor’s commission of the offense.

The report described a Middle Eastern man who was attacked by a stranger and struck six times while leaving a mosque in June. “This is America! Go back to your country!” the assailant yelled. A Jewish Community Center in Woodland Hills received a voicemail message that said: “I will kill every single Jew… I’m going to get you.” 

“It is troubling that hate crimes in L.A. County have been rising for six years in a row,” said LACCHR Executive Director Robin Toma. The sentiment was echoed by L.A. County supervisor Hilda L. Solis, who stated, “We have to ensure that Los Angeles County is truly a place where everyone can be who they are without fear.” 

“STAND is deeply disturbed by the dramatic increase in hate crime of all forms in Los Angeles County,” said National STAND Director Bari Berger. “We are especially concerned about the dramatic rise in attacks on the Jewish community. An attack on one religion is an attack on all, and anti-Semitism and antireligious hate have no place in America today. 

STAND applauds the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations for its commitment to shining a light on the of scourge of hate, and encourages religions to unite to protect the right to believe for all.”