Rising Hate: Hate crimes in California increase two years in a row

Rising Hate: Hate crimes in California increase two years in a row

Gail Fry

On Monday, July 3, the California State Attorney General released the 2016 Report on Hate Crime in California. 

The report confirmed back to back increases of hate crimes in the state for the first time since 1996, according to Brian Levin, Director of California State University San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism. 

The 2016 Report on Hate Crime in California obtained by The Voice/Black Voice News showed the number of hate crimes in California increased from 837 in 2015 to 931 in 2016—an increase of 11.2 percent. The results included the following: increases in hate crime events involving a racial bias increased from 428 in 2015 to 519 in 2016—an increase of 21.3 percent; hate crime events involving sexual orientation bias increased from 231 in 2015 to 251 in 2016—an increase of 10.1 percent. There was a sharp increase in hate-related property crime offenses, up from 330 incidents in 2015 to 417 in 2016—a jump of 26.4 percent. However, hate crimes motivated by anti-religion bias decreased from 190 in 2015 to 171 in 2016—a decrease of 10 percent.

in 2016—a decrease of 10 percent. 

The report points out that hate crime overall in California has decreased from a high of 1,426 in 2007 to 931 in 2016, a decrease of 35 percent. For a copy of the report visit: https:// openjustice.doj.ca.gov/2016/hate. 

In an interview with The Voice/Black Voice News, Levin, from CSUSB’s Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, explained his center “looked at 25 large cities and counties among the largest in the United States and in those places, saw a 6 percent increase in 2016” and the 2017 data for the same cities, year-to-date hate crimes were “all up.” 

“In the 2016 data, as we said, we saw a six percent increase but we saw a much bigger increase in larger cities and large states. California, we found, had a 14 percent increase in hate crime.” Levin explained the information was from “official law enforcement data.” 

“If this increase sustains nationally, it will be the first back to back increase we’ve had since 2004, which was significantly smaller than the number of hate crimes we had in 2001,” Levin voiced, explaining 2001 was the “highest level we’ve had in 25 years.” 

Levin acknowledged African-Americans are the “single largest group” targeted for hate crimes in the United States, currently at 29.8 percent. But, “their proportion as a cohort of all victims has actually declined” whereas “we have seen an increase in anti-religion hate crimes.” 

Levin explained there are many categories of hate-crime offenders: the “mission offender” or someone who has developed a “depth of prejudice” toward another group of people; the “thrill offender” who is out for “excitement and peer validation;” the “reactive-defensive offender” who reacts to an event such as “neighborhood integration” or a “terrorist attack” or “some kind of perceived act of disrespect;” a “mentally ill offender” with difficulty understanding and making reasoned judgments; and a small number of “conflicted offenders” who will “attack people from within their own group.” 

Levin credited Jack Levin, PhD, a professor emeritus at Northeastern University and Co- Director of the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict, and Jack McDevitt, Director of Northeastern’s Institute on Race and Justice, for creating almost all of the categories of hate crime offenders, while Levin came up with the “mentally ill offender.”

“There are a lot of causes, some are broad national types of variables while others are much more localized,” Levin explained. “So if you have a hate group or serial offender or some kind of neighborhood school or university tension, those things … can cause hate crimes as well.” 

Levin explained, for example, people are reacting to an event, such as when then-candidate Donald Trump proposed his “Muslim Ban” leading to a “87.5 percent” increase in hate crimes against Muslims for the “next five days” with the increase exceeding “the monthly average” of hate crimes for the “previous five years.”

“The one thing I think is worth noting is that we’re seeing a disturbing number of incidents that don’t rise to the level of a hate crime,” Levin said. “I think we have to ramp up our responses to noncriminal events using community and educational measures to respond to those events when the criminal law is not adequate to.” 

Levin spoke of online harassment that may not be illegal, and incidents without law enforcement response, encouraging victims to “reach out to people as opposed to alienate them and drive them away,” differentiating when people are “misguided or ignorant,” and “be a little bit more tolerant,” making it a learning experience. 

“Human relations commissions, universities, things like that; enforcement of the laws and leaders using the bully pulpit to decry prejudice are among those things; but also, enforcement of the law with respect to both data collection of hate crimes and investigation of them,” Levin cited as solutions, as well as fostering regular inter-group contact and education. 

“We don’t have the kind of human relations infrastructure in the Inland Empire that may exist in other neighboring counties,” Levin acknowledged. “I do think that universities and inter-faith communities can fill that gap in part.” 

From his experiences and conversations with police chiefs in the Cities of Riverside and San Bernardino, and interfaith leaders in the Inland Empire, Levin believes they are “really concerned about this” and are very “forthcoming with their data,” which he sees as “a really good sign.” 

When The Voice/Black Voice News asked Levin about demographic changes where minority populations are increasing in areas and Anglo-white populations are decreasing as a possible cause of hate crimes he replied, “What I think is so interesting has been the emergence of Euro-nationalism as the country’s demographics have changed. We’re now about 61 percent Anglo-white in the United States, in California in 2014, we became a no majority state.” In California, no single racial or ethnic group forms a majority of the state’s population. 

“Americans, for the most part, reject notions of racial intellectual inferiority,” Levin opined. “However, a nefarious type of prejudice that labels people of different faiths or different races as being not only culturally inferior but toxically erosive to society has unfortunately taken root and is part of this euro-nationalism which extends beyond the United States and into Europe.” 

Levin explained he created the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at CSUSB “to look at research and the public policy implications relating to extremism, hate crime and terrorism,” as well as to host experts, community leaders and top policy experts to address the issues at public events held on campus.

Next week, Part 2 of this two-part series will examine what the 2016 Report on Hate Crime in California revealed about incidents of hate crimes in the inland region.

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