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(SAN DIEGO, Calif.) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer released today the latest annual hate crime report showing a 15.5 percent spike in bias-motivated assaults in California for 2001 that was sparked by an anti-Arab backlash in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on America.
"The overall number of hate crimes reported last year actually would have decreased five percent from a year earlier if not for the bias-motivated assaults against Californians victimized because they are Muslim or appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent," Lockyer said.
According to the report "Hate Crime in California 2001," there were 2,261 hate crimes reported involving 2,265 offenses, 2,812 victims and 2,479 suspects. A year earlier, there were a total 1,957 hate crimes reported, involving 2,002 offenses, 2,352 victims and 2,107 suspects. The previous high was 2,054 hate crimes reported in 1996.
"Nearly three quarters of the reported cases involved intimidation, assault and other violent crimes," Lockyer said. "Hate crimes based on religion declined or remained nearly steady in all categories except anti-Islamic hate crimes which soared. Hate crimes motivated by race or ethnicity also declined for every group except American Indian or Alaskan native and the category accounting for Middle Easterners."
The report shows the overall increase in hate crime events last year was due to a spike in two categories that contain bias motivations against Arabs, Middle Easterners and Muslims. "Anti-other ethnicity/national origin" hate crimes jumped from 99 in 2000 to 501 in 2001. The number of Anti-Islamic hate crime victims jumped from 5 in 2000 to 87 last year. Without these increases, the annual change in the overall total would have dipped 5 percent.
Other highlights of "Hate Crime In California, 2001" include:
* Race or ethnicity was the bias motivation for 67.5 percent (1,526) of the events;
* Sexual orientation was the bias motivation for 18.6 percent (420) of the events;
Religion was the bias motivation for 13.1 percent (296) of the events;
* Violent crimes accounted for 73.3 percent (1,658) of the events, increasing 28.2 percent from the 1,293 reported in 2000;
* Hate crimes at a residence, home, or on a driveway occurred 31.4 percent (711) of the time;
* Hate crimes on a highway, street, road, alley or sidewalk occurred 26.4 percent (597) of the time;
* Hate crimes on school or college property accounted for 8.4 percent (189) of the total.
* Prosecutors filed 314 hate crime complaints, with 43.3 percent (136) resulting in hate crime convictions. (Overall, there were 207 convictions in these cases.)
*Compared to 1995, the first full year hate crimes were reported in California, the number of hate crime events increased 28.9 percent (1,754 to 2,261).
Lockyer noted that the report underscores the target of hate crimes are individuals, rather than property or institutions. In 2001, all but some seven percent of the hate crimes involved individuals as victims. More than two-thirds of the hate crimes were motivated by the victim's race or ethnicity, and over half the incidents occurred at a residence or on a roadway or highway.
"It was important that law enforcement and all our communities worked so hard to quell the backlash and foster understanding and tolerance last year," Lockyer said. "It remains important to continue this effort to combat hate crimes. By working together, we can help California build greater understanding and tolerance in the most diverse region on the planet."
The report shows 274 law enforcement agencies reporting hate crimes, which is an increase of nearly two dozen from a year earlier.
Last year, the Attorney General directed the California Department of Justice to begin monthly tracking of anti-Arab hate crimes to assist law enforcement and communities develop effective measures to combat hate crimes and foster tolerance. Practical guides on the reporting of hate crimes also were prepared in nine languages and distributed through the Attorney General's Office of Immigrant Assistance.
Lockyer released the latest annual report on hate crimes at a regional meeting of police chiefs and sheriffs from international border and Inland Empire counties. The report can be found on the Attorney General's web site at: http://ag.ca.gov/cjsc/publications/hatecrimes/hc01/preface.pdf In addition to the summary of crime events, the report contains various data tables. Table 7 provides a total of hate crimes reported by jurisdiction. Table 12 provides at a glance total number of hate crimes reported annually by various categories from 1995 to 2001.
The report highlights reported criminal acts where there is a reasonable cause to believe the crime was motivated by the victim's race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, or physical or mental disability. All law enforcement agencies in California are required by state law to participate in the Attorney General's Hate Crime Reporting Program.