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(SACRAMENTO) - Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced the number of hate crimes reported in California in 2002 dropped significantly from 2001, when anti-Arab crimes spiked in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.
"I am pleased to see the numbers of these deplorable crimes is dropping," Lockyer said. "But even one incident is too many. Hate crimes are among the most dehumanizing of crimes, and they tear at the rich fabric of our diverse communities and state."
According to the annual report, "Hate Crime in California 2002," the number of hate crime events – or incidents that may involve more than one victim, suspect or criminal act – dropped 26.6 percent from 2001. Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors reported 1,659 hate crime events in 2002, compared to 2001, when 2,261 events were reported. Significantly, the number of hate crime events in the "other ethnicity or national origin" category, which includes those based on an anti-Arab or anti-Middle Eastern bias, showed the greatest decline, plummeting 53.5 percent (199 in 2002, compared to 428 in 2001).
"This is a very promising development," Lockyer said. "The increase in hate crimes we saw in 2001 was primarily a result of acts of hate against people of Middle Eastern or Arab heritage. Those incidents represent a wrong but, thankfully, short-lived reaction to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. It is heartening to see that Californians are becoming more united in appreciating and embracing our state's incredible diversity."
The latest report shows there were 2,007 hate crime victims in 2002, a drop of 28.6 percent from the 2,812 victims reported in 2001. The number of suspects involved in hate crimes dropped 20.8 percent (1,963 in 2002, versus 2,479 in 2001). The number of bias-motivated crimes dropped 11.3 percent, from 2,265 in 2001 to 2,009 in 2002.
The report highlights reported criminal acts where there is a reasonable cause to believe the crime was motivated in part by the victim's race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin or physical or mental disability. All law enforcement agencies are required by state law to report such crimes to the Attorney General's Office. In 2002, 726 agencies reported hate crime events.
Prosecutors filed 425 hate crime cases in 2002. Of the 301 cases in which there was a disposition, more than half (54.5 percent) resulted in a hate crime conviction, and almost 30 percent resulted in another conviction. Of the 164 convictions, 12 were the result of trial verdicts and 152 were the result of pleas.
The 2002 report shows an overall decrease in all categories of hate crime events:
Hate crime events based on race, ethnicity or national origin dropped 32.1 percent from 2001, but still made up the bulk of hate crime events (62.4 percent, or 1,036 incidents);
Hate crime events based on sexual orientation dropped 12.9 percent, but still made up 22.1 percent (366) of the 2002 hate crime events;
Hate crime events based on religion dropped 19.3 percent, but still made up 14.4 percent (239) of the events;
Gender was the bias motivation for .7 percent (11) of the events reported in 2002;
Disability was the bias motivation for .4 percent (7) of the events.
The largest decrease in the number of hate crime events based on a victim's race, ethnicity or national origin was reported in the category that includes Arab or Middle Eastern victims. There were 199 hate crimes reported in 2002 in the "Other Ethnicity/National Origin" and 428 hate crimes in 2001.
Of the events based on race, ethnicity or national origin, most (46.5 percent, or 482 events) were motivated by an anti-Black bias. However, the number of hate crime events targeting African Americans fell 19.1 percent from 2001, when 596 incidents were reported. There also were decreases in hate crime events biased against Hispanics (down 24.3 percent, or 156 events in 2002 compared to 206 in 2001).
Decreases were reported in incidents based on anti-Islamic (14 events in 2002, compared to 73 in 2001; anti-Asian/Pacific Islander (70 compared to 93); anti-Multi-Racial (35 compared to 71); anti-American Indian/Alaskan Native (3 compared to 4); and anti-White (91 compared to 128).
Violent crimes continue to make up majority of hate crime events reported, accounting for 73.4 percent, or 1,217, incidents. The rest, 26 6 percent, or 442, were property crimes. Individuals made up 93.6 percent (1,878) of the 2,007 victims of reported hate crimes in 2002. Government property was reported as the victim in 2.5 percent (51), religious organizations were the victims in 2 percent (41) and business and financial institutions were the victims in 1.8 percent (37) of hate crime events.
For the second time since 1995, when the report was first published, most (511) hate crime events occurred on a highway, road, alley or street. There were 470 events at a residence, home or driveway, 156 hate crimes at schools and colleges and 74 at churches, synagogues and temples.
The report includes the number of hate crimes reported by jurisdiction, a summary of crime events and numbers reported since 1995. To view the "Hate Crime in California 2002" report, visit the Attorney General's website at http://www.ag.ca.gov/cjsc/publications/hatecrimes/pub.htm