Breaking news

September 27, 2019

Hate crimes jumped 12% last year over 2017, part of a five-year trend of rising hate crimes, according to the OC Human Relations Commission’s annual report released Thursday.

There were 67 reported hate crimes in the county last year. “In the last five years, hate crimes have steadily been on the rise with the largest jump occurring between 2017 to 2018,” according to the report.

The commission noted a difference between the state Department of Justice’s 2018 hate crime report, which showed a 2.5% decrease. “We found that our data included hate crime reports from several educational institutions in the county, which were not reflected in the Attorney General’s report,” according to the commission’s report.

The most common way racism was expressed was through vandalism at 21%, followed by simple assaults at 13%, criminal threats and aggravated assaults at 3%.

The most significant hate-crime incident was the fatal stabbing of 21-year-old student Blaze Bernstein, whose body was found in a shallow grave in a Lake Forest park in January of last year. Samuel Lincoln Woodward is charged in the murder with a hate crime allegation.

Another notable incident involved antisemitic vandalism on an Irvine synagogue in November.

The most frequent hate crimes were motivated by race, ethnicity or national origin at 42%, followed by 34% based on religious faith, and 16% for sexual orientation.

Last year, Jews were the most targeted for hate crimes at 13%. The report attributes it to being “part of a national trend that also shows an increase of hate crimes targeting people of the Jewish faith.”

Source: OC Human Relations Commission