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Anti-Asian Hate Crimes in LA County Increase by 76% in 2020

October 20, 2021

Anti-Asian hate crimes in Los Angeles County increased by 76% in 2020 compared to 2019 — from 25 to 44, the largest number of such crimes reported since 2001, according to a county report released Wednesday.

The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations special report collected data from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, more than 40 city police departments, dozens of police agencies at schools, colleges, universities and trained community-based organizations.

Since 1980, the LACCHR has collected hate-crime data and issued an annual Hate Crime Report, encompassing all reported hate crimes in the county. This year’s is scheduled to be released next month — with Wednesday’s special report on anti-Asian hate crimes one element of that wider survey.

Among the significant findings:

  • Specific Asian nationalities and ethnicities were the targets of hate. Most slurs were anti-Chinese, but anti-Japanese and anti-Asian Indian hate crimes also occurred. Among the victims were people of Korean, Taiwanese, Vietnamese and Guatemalan ethnicity.
  • In 10 of the anti-Asian hate crimes (23%), the suspects explicitly blamed the victims for COVID-19.
  • The median age of victims increased from 30 to 41 from year to year. Half of the victims were over 40, including two seniors. In 2019, there were no victims of hate crimes over 40.
  • The rate of hate crimes that were violent was 76% in 2019 and 77% in 2020 — significantly higher compared to prior years. It was 58% in 2018.
  • There was a tripling in the number of female victims of anti-Asian hate crime compared to the previous year, rising to nearly half of all victims.
  • In cases in which the race of the suspect was known, whites comprised 42% of anti-Asian hate crime suspects, followed by Latino/a (36%) suspects and African American (19%) suspects.

“This last finding is particularly important,” said Robin Toma, the LACCHR’s executive director.

“Contrary to impressions which might be drawn from videos in social media posts and news coverage, which are of only a fraction of the actual hate crimes, our report indicates that the racial makeup of suspects committing anti-Asian hate crimes is much more racially diverse.”

Said Commission President Guadalupe Montano: “It did not help that the former president repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as ‘China virus’ and ‘kung- flu.”‘

Otto Solorzano, acting director of the LA County Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services, warned that the number of hate crimes is likely underreported.

“We know that the actual number of hate crimes is higher than we’re able to report,” he said.

He urged anyone who experiences a hate crime or hate act to call 211 or go to www.LAvsHate.org to receive assistance.

Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis said Wednesday’s report “shows that we have much more work to do.”

“The First District is home to many residents of Asian and Pacific Islander descent,” Solis said. “It is disturbing that our AAPI communities continue to be targeted and discriminated against. We must ensure that Los Angeles County is truly a place where everyone can be who they are without fear.”

Supervisor Holly Mitchell said the numbers “continue to underscore the need for increased outreach for reporting hate crimes, along with culturally competent support to help prevent acts of violence and protect survivors. We are clear that these crimes are disgusting racist tropes propagated by ignorant statements and actions that ultimately hurt our communities as a whole.

“It is my hope that the additional resources the board has surged to the LA vs. Hate initiative will strengthen the impact of our many partners combating hate on the front lines and providing justice and healing to our communities,” she added.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said the report reflects “a significant and troubling problem that is growing, and makes clear that LA County must take every possible step to curb this rise in racial violence.”

Supervisor Janice Hahn, meanwhile, said the data were “disturbing but, unfortunately, not surprising.

“We know the escalation of attacks against the AAPI community is taking a toll on residents,” she said. “I have heard from residents who are afraid to walk alone, or go to the grocery store, or even leave their homes. The AAPI community needs to know that they are not alone. We are united in supporting them and addressing these attacks.”

Supervisor Kathryn Barger added, “This is an important reminder for all residents to stand up and speak out when they witness a hate crime.”