Hate Crimes Reach New Highs in California; State DOJ seeks to tackle problem


Patricia Roque and her family were victims of a suspected hate crime in May. She says the unprovoked attack began when a motorist hit her car at a North Hollywood drive-thru and began making racial slurs and death threats.

“It’s very, very difficult to get over it or get over it. It’s something that definitely haunts you for a long time even though you haven’t had any physical injuries, but the trauma – it lingers,” Roque said.

After making multiple threats to kill Roque and his family, the man allegedly attempted to open their car door, at which point Patricia’s father attempted to intervene and things turned violent. Patricia’s mother intervened and was also assaulted. The suspect was later arrested and faces battery charges, but the 19-year-old says she no longer dates alone.

“Unless it’s with three or more people and we really need to be aware of our surroundings even if it’s daylight,” Roque told KTLA.

Incidents like Patricia’s follow a surge in hate crimes over the past year.

Hate crimes in California increased more than 42% in 2021 with double-digit percentage increases in crimes involving bias against race, sexual orientation and religion. Anti-Asian bias events increased by more than 177%.

“Anti-Asian was our biggest increase, but anti-black and African-American make up nearly half of all racially motivated crimes,” a speaker said Tuesday during a presentation on crimes of hate in California.

The California Department of Justice launched new programs in 2021 to try to better address hate crimes. Today, they stress the importance of reporting these incidents to law enforcement so that officials understand the scope of the problem and can better deploy resources.

Victims may not know that an incident they experienced could be considered a hate crime or may not think anything will be done if they report it.

Experts say the pandemic may have played a role in the increase in these targeted attacks.

“The stress of the pandemic has made people angry. People were increasingly online and when the gathering restrictions ended it was a perfect storm,” said Brian Levin, professor of criminal justice and director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State. San Bernardino.

So far this year, data shows LAPD has seen hate crimes decline slightly, down 1%, but Levin says that’s not worth celebrating.

“Even though we’re flat from last year, it’s a decent increase from previous years,” Levin said.

As for Patricia Roque and her family, she fears the incidents are being under-reported and says she can attest that it is “definitely powerful for victims to speak out”.


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