Hate crimes on the rise in some Southern California areas

Daily Sundial

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Reported hate crimes in the Inland Empire, Riverside and San Bernardino areas have risen sharply in recent years, despite a decline in reported hate crimes in California overall, according to the state attorney general’s office.

As per the most recent data, hate crimes in both Riverside and San Bernardino counties rose 19 percent in 2003. Contrastingly, the number of hate crime incidences throughout Los Angeles County dropped by approximately 22 percent during the same year, according to numbers from the Los Angeles Almanac website.

Overall, hate crimes declined throughout California by 10 percent during 2003. Some experts say the rise in hate crimes in surrounding counties is due to a change in the racial and ethnic makeup of certain neighborhoods. Predominantly white neighborhoods that see an influx of minorities moving into the neighborhood are the areas where the number of hate crimes usually increases.

“If a neighborhood is changing fast, whether it be people of another race, religion or culture moving in next door, that may bother the residents,” said James Allen, professor of geography. “(The already existent residents) may feel that the neighborhood is changing right under them.”

According to ethnic and racial data Allen gathered from around Riverside County, the number of African Americans in the county increased by 61 percent from 1990 to 2000. The number of Latinos in the county increased by 82 percent, and the Asian population increased by 62 percent.

Allen’s research specifically focused on Riverside County, and encompassed cities from Corona and Murietta to Temecula.

But not all neighborhoods in the Inland Empire are seeing an increase in hate crimes. According to numbers from the University of Redlands, located within San Bernardino County, there were no reported hate crimes on campus or in the surrounding Redlands neighborhoods from 2001 to 2003.

“The city of Redlands is close-knit,” said Deborah Mandabach, director of public relations for the university.

Mandabach said that a little over 60,000 people make their homes in the city of Redlands, a relatively small number compared to other bigger cities, that see more hate crimes.

“We are a residential campus,” Mandabach said. “It’s unusual (on a residential campus) to have such a crime.”

But, just because the numbers don’t show a problem with hate crimes doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

According to the report by California Attorney General’s Civil Rights Commission on Hate Crimes, hate crimes based on gender and disability are not often reported. Additionally, some law enforcement agencies expressed confusion as to whether youth gang violence should be reported as gang-related crimes or as hate crimes when they meet the criteria for hate crimes.

For the most part, a hate crime is defined as an attack on a person or their property, in which the victim is intentionally chosen because of race, religion, national origin, gender, disability or sexual orientation.

“Preventing Youth Crime: A Manual for Schools and Communities” reports that many hate crimes are never reported to the police, and it is likely that the numbers of actual hate crimes far exceed the number reported.

According FBI reports, approximately 10,700 hate crimes were reported in the United States in 1996, which amounts to approximately 29 such incidences per day.