Rafu Wire and Staff Reports

SANTA ANA — The virtual release of the 2021 Orange County (OC) Hate Crimes Report, where the Orange County Human Relations Commission (Commission) presented Orange County hate activity trends for 2021, was held on Sept. 15.

The county produces and publishes this report annually to increase awareness, strengthen hate crime prevention programming, and promote a bias-free community. The report is available online at: http://occommunityservices.org/ochrc

The 2021 OC Hate Crimes Report reflects a 6% increase in total hate crimes and incidents from 2020 in Orange County. Of the 398 hate crimes and incidents reported, 60 percent of cases were motivated by the person’s race, ethnicity, and/or national origin.

The county recorded 97 hate crimes and 301 incidents, which fall short of the standard for criminal charges, according to the report. In 2020, 375 hate crimes and incidents were reported — 112 hate crimes and 263 incidents.

Hate crimes dropped by 13% from 2020 to 2021, but hate incidents jumped by 14%.

Of the hate crimes recorded in 2021, 56% were based on the victim’s race or ethnicity, 21% were motivated by religion, and 23% were due to sexual orientation.

In the hate incidents category, most of the offensive behavior, 65%, was due to race or ethnicity, while 29% targeted the victim’s religion.

The victims of hate incidents were primarily of Asian descent at 51%; 26% were anti-Semitic, and 8% were aimed at Black residents.

According to the report, 22 reported hate crimes last year targeted sexual orientation, an 83% increase over 2020. Ten hate crimes last year were aimed at Asian Pacific Islanders, a 43% increase from 2020.

There was a 164% increase over 2020 in hate incidents directed at Asian Pacific Islanders, according to the report.

The combined number of hate crimes and incidents last year was up 165% compared to five years ago.

According to the report, 33% of the crimes and incidents happened in public places such as a park or on the street.

For hate crimes, 25 (34.7%) were in public; 14 (19.4%) were in a residence; and 14 (19.4%) were in a workplace. Seven (9.7%) were in a school; four (5.6%) were at a religious site; and the remaining eight (11.1%) were at an unknown place.

Of the hate crimes in 2021, 16 were anti-Black, 10 were anti-Asian Pacific Islander, seven were anti-Latino, four were anti-Middle Eastern/Arab, and four were anti-white. Ten were anti-gay, five were anti-LGBTQ and one was anti-lesbian. In 26 incidents the bias was unknown.

During the virtual release, commission members released a letter one victim received in the mail about a resident of Asian descent moving out of a neighborhood. The letter writer said, “You frickin’ Asians are taking over our American community and it is not resting well with all and who lives here … Watch out, pack your bags and go back to your country, where you belong.”

“As a community, it is important we continue to stand up to prejudice, so everyone can feel safe and secure,” said Chairman Doug Chaffee, 4th District supervisor of the OC Board of Supervisors. “The continued rise in hate activity across the nation shows we can do more to create an all-inclusive environment, which is why my fellow board members and I strongly support expanding the county’s anti-hate efforts.”

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer issued the following statement: “When hate exists in our society, all of our lights are dimmed. The victims who suffer in silence. The haters who learned to hate instead of love. Every aspect of society hurts when hate overcomes love.

“The results of the 2021 Hate Crimes Report by the OC Human Relations Commission are distressing.

“Hate-motivated behavior and incidents in Orange County have steadily increased – rising 424% over the last 10 years. Hate crimes and hate incidents increased a combined 6% percent over the previous year.

“This is despicable.

“The beauty of Orange County is found in our diversity – in the millions of different faces who call Orange County home. Our stories are all different – but those differences are what make up the patchwork that we all call home.

“The world is not a better place when we shrink into the shadows because speaking up is too hard.

“We must all speak up – and stand up for what is right and just. We must speak for the silenced so they too can be brave enough to raise their voices and be heard. We must speak so loudly that the voices of love drown out the voices of hate.

“Last May, I created the Orange County District Attorney’s Hate Crimes Unit dedicated to prosecuting hate crimes – and we have prosecuted more than twice the number of hate crimes during the first three years of my administration compared to the prior 25 years of prior administrations.

“I will not tolerate hate – here in Orange County – or anywhere. If I can prove it, I will prosecute haters to the fullest extent of the law. I will keep sending that strong message over and over again that there is no place for hate.

“We as a society must do better. Our unique differences make us uniquely us – and we should not be preyed upon because of who we are, what we look like, or who we love.

“There is no room in our community for violence and hatred. But there is plenty of room for love. And we must use our collective voices to speak up for what is right and just.” 

Speakers during the virtual release included Irvine Police Chief Michael Kent, Senior Deputy District Attorney Brett Brian, and Community Programs Director Amy Arambulo.

In December 2021, the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to approve a $1 million proposal submitted by the commission to expand anti-hate efforts. These efforts focus on expanding language accessibility and ways to report bias-motivated hate; creating a comprehensive service provider network to improve and expand support services for victims of hate; and launching a multicultural, multilingual, and diverse education/awareness campaign for all of Orange County.

The county would like to thank the OC Human Relations Commission, which is composed of volunteer members of the public appointed by the Board of Supervisors to seek out the causes of tension and conflict; discrimination and intolerance based on race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, or marital status; and attempt to eliminate those causes.

The county would also like to thank the OC Human Relations Council, which is contracted by the county to support the commission and work closely with law enforcement, nonprofit organizations, diverse faith leaders, and community members to respond to and track hate crimes and incidents on behalf of the county. To learn more about services provided by the county through the Human Relations Commission, visit: http://occommunityservices.org/ochrc

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