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(LOS ANGELES) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today released the latest statewide hate crime statistics showing the number of incidents in California increased in 1999 by 12.1 percent from a year earlier, rising from 1,750 in 1998 to 1,962 last year.
"There were nearly 2,500 victims of hate crimes reported last year with over 60 percent of the offenses motivated by race or ethnicity," Lockyer said. "Violent crimes accounted for about 68 percent of the known offenses. Each hate crime is an attack on a human being's personal identity or beliefs. This latest hate crime report unfortunately shows that while we live in one of the most diverse places on the planet there is still ugly intolerance and violence focused against people who are different."
Lockyer was joined in the release of the report by members of the Attorney General's Civil Rights Commission on Hate Crimes, other civil rights leaders and community organizations.
"Hate Crimes in California, 1999" is the latest annual report issued by the Attorney General for crimes reported involving any criminal acts where there is a reasonable cause to believe the crime was motivated by the victim's race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or physical or mental disability. Through the Attorney General's Office, California began compiling and issuing annual reports on hate crimes in 1995, when 1,754 hate crime events were reported.
"Anyone familiar with hate crime reporting knows there still is a problem of under-reporting of incidents," Lockyer said. "This is a major issue being tackled by the Attorney General's Civil Rights Commission on Hate Crimes. The Commission is looking at ways to improve the reporting of hate crimes and hearing recommendations from local communities in forums throughout the state."
According to the latest hate crime report, 244 law enforcement agencies reported 1,962 hate crimes involving 2,001 offenses, 2,436 victims and 2,021 known suspects. Other highlights of the report:
* Race or ethnicity was the bias motivation for 59.8 percent (1,173) of the events;
* Sexual orientation was the bias motivation for 22.2 percent (436) of the events;
* Religion was the bias motivation for 17.2 percent (338) of the events;
* Violent crimes accounted for 67.7 percent (1,329) of the events;
* Hate crimes occurred at a residence, home, or on a driveway 30.9 percent (607) of the time;
* Hate crimes occurred on a highway, street, road, alley or sidewalk 26.2 percent (514) of the time;
* Prosecutors filed 372 hate crime complaints, with 46.8 percent (174) resulting in hate crime convictions. (Overall, 61.6 percent, or 229, resulted in a conviction.)
All law enforcement agencies in California participate in the Attorney General's Hate Crime Reporting Program. Each law enforcement agency submits copies of bias-motivated crime reports to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on a monthly basis. Reports received by DOJ are reviewed by at least two members of the bias-motivated crime unit before the data is included in the hate crime report.
The Attorney General's Civil Rights Commission on Hate Crimes will be holding the first in a series of Los Angeles-area community forums on September 20 in the Attorney General's Office. Other community forums are planned for communities in the San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, West Los Angeles, South Central Los Angeles, and the Antelope Valley.
Lockyer also announced that the hate crimes data base being developed by the California Department of Justice will be launched in Los Angeles and Sacramento in August, with law enforcement statewide being able to use the new hi-tech crime-fighting tool by the beginning of the year. Law enforcement in both Los Angeles and Sacramento have hate crimes investigation units.
The full report, Hate Crime in California 1999, can be found at the Attorney General's web page