The number of reported hate crimes in California has reportedly reached a catastrophic level, the worst since the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
During a news conference on Tuesday, the state’s Attorney General Rob Bonta highlighted the nearly 1,763 hate crimes reported in 2021, which indicates a 33% increase from 2020.
This figure represents the highest tally since 2001, which is when California saw 2,261 reported hate crimes fueled by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 also marked a noticeable rise in such incidents targeting Black and Asian Americans.
“One hard truth in our state, just as we see across the nation, is that the epidemic of hate we saw spurred on during the pandemic remains a clear and present threat,” Bonta said. “Each of these incidents represents an attack on a person, a neighbor, a family member, a fellow Californian.”
Based on the recent data, the most common targets of racially motivated violence and property crimes were Black and Asian Californians.
According to Bonta, the most prevalent were anti-Black crimes with 513 reported incidents last year, registering a 13% rise from the previous year.
However, the 240 anti-Asian hate crimes in 2021 indicate a “skyrocketing” 177% jump from 2020, which he attributed to “the bigoted words of our former president” that caused “a trickle” of racial animosity into “a flood.”
Anti-Latino and anti-Jewish crimes in the state were also up by around 30%, with 197 and 152 reported incidents last year, respectively. Bias crimes involving sexual orientation also saw a 48% increase from the prior year with 303 recorded cases.
Assaults on Asian Americans, including women and seniors, made global headlines last year, with San Francisco police reporting a 567% increase in reported crimes from the previous year.
This growing trend, Bonta notes, paints “a grim reality” that the diverse communities in the state are all too familiar with.
Bonta also announced the new statewide hate crime coordinator position within the California Department of Justice. The person chosen for this role will assist state and local law enforcement with combating hate crimes.