The city of Los Angeles is on pace this year to set another record for the number of hate crimes, topping a mark set just last year, according to data released Monday by a nonprofit news organization.
Data compiled by Crosstown at USC, a nonprofit news organization based at the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, showed that during the first six months of the year, 349 hate crimes were reported to the Los Angeles Police Department, a 16.7% increase from the same period last year.
The number is more than double the amount reported in the first six months of 2020, according to Crosstown, which cited LAPD records.
Hate crimes in the first six months of the year most often targeted the Black community, with 91 reports, according to Crosstown. The next closest target was the Hispanic/Latino community, with 43 such reports, and the Jewish community at 39.
According to the data, May saw the most hate crimes reported to the LAPD at 78, and 71 more in June -- the two highest monthly totals ever recorded in Los Angeles. Crosstown noted that in the three years prior to the pandemic, an average of 20 to 40 hate crimes were reported monthly.
Hate crimes are defined by the LAPD as any instance in which a victim is targeted based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or disability.
A total of 596 hate crimes were reported to the LAPD last year, the highest number ever in a single year, according to Crosstown. Current figures for this year put the city on pace to reach nearly 700.
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Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, told Crosstown the numbers could get higher in the second half of the year, thanks in part to the November election, which could ramp up divisive rhetoric.
“Generally, if you take the last 10 years of FBI data and you rank by quarter, the second half of the year is the one that has more hate crimes,” Levin told Crosstown.
Crosstown also noted that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, less than half of all hate crimes are actually reported to police, with some victims wary of interacting with law enforcement.