Reported hate crimes increased across California for the third straight year in 2017, an uptick experts blamed on President Trump’s vitriolic rhetoric toward minorities and the resurgence of hate groups in the state, the Los Angeles Times reports. There were 1,093 hate crimes reported in California in 2017, a 17.4 percent increase, says the California attorney general’s office. Hate crimes have increased annually since 2014, jumping roughly 44 percent in that three-year span. More than half of the hate crimes reported in California last year involved racial bias, and about 27 percent involved animus toward black people. Hate crimes targeting victims based on race, sexual orientation and religion all increased sharply.
Brian Levin of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino said changing demographics in California and the increased presence of organized hate groups in the state have combined to drive up hate crimes in the state in recent years. “I think people, particularly with bigots, they are now more emboldened and we are seeing this across a spectrum of data points,” Levin said, citing “bigoted social media posts” and “white nationalist rallies across the nation and in California.” Hate crimes had been trending downward in California for years. Reported hate crimes in the state decreased every year from 2007 to 2014, reaching a low of 758 alleged incidents. The attorney general’s report, which relies on reporting from local police departments, may not capture the entire increase. This year, a state audit found several large law enforcement agencies in California — including the Los Angeles police and Orange County Sheriff’s departments — were not properly tracking hate crimes.