SANTA ANA (CNS) – Hate crimes in Orange County jumped by 14 percent in 2011 over the previous year, ending a four-year decline, according to the 20th annual report from OC Human Relations released today.
Last year, there were 64 documented hate crimes reported, up from 56 in 2010, according to Rusty Kennedy, executive director of OC Human Relations. In 2009, there were 77 reported hate crimes, 82 in 2008 and 101 in 2007, Kennedy said.
Hate crimes involving religious bigotry were also up, according to the report. Eight of the 15 hate crimes involving religion targeted the Jewish community, seven were against Muslims and the rest involved Roman Catholics and Mormons.
Hate crimes involving sexual orientation were also up from five incidents in 2010 to seven last year. Kennedy said the commission suspects hate crimes against gays, lesbians and transgender people are under-reported.
The main motivation for hate crimes involved race and ethnic background, with the main target black residents, Kennedy said. “African-Americans are again the most frequently targeted,” Kennedy said. “They represent 19 of the (hate crime incidents).”
There were seven incidents involving Latinos, Kennedy said. The commission believes Latinos are reluctant to report hate crimes to authorities, Kennedy said.
Only 2 percent of Orange County residents are black, but were targets of hate crimes 30 percent of the time last year, according to the report. Black residents have been victims most frequently of hate crimes going back to 2003, Kennedy said.
“The Human Relations Commission has been issuing this report for 20 years, and I think for us, we want to say the county does not accept this type of hate,” Kennedy said. “In this time of partisan politics there are kinds of things that divide us, but one thing that brings us together is our stand against hate crimes.”
The commission works with local school leaders to promote anti-bullying programs to try to address racism as well, Kennedy said.
“We call (the program) Bridges,” Kennedy said. “Really, at its core it’s to fight hate and bigotry.”