A new report from the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University found that more than a quarter of respondents surveyed who identify as LGBTQ say that they or an immediate member of their household were victims of a hate crime in 2018.
The study, conducted earlier this year in the city and county of Los Angeles and released last month, used a representative sampling of around 2,000 Southland residents to conclude that overall, 73 percent of residents think different racial and ethnic groups are getting along very or somewhat well. The report noted that this number is down from a high of 77 percent in 2017.
However, StudyLA found that 11 percent of Angelenos say they or someone in their household was a victim of a hate crime last year. Additionally, the survey noted that. “Trust in their neighbors decreases from 71 percent to 50 percent if they are a victim household.”
Most shocking to researchers was the spike in the LGBT community: 27 percent of LGBTQ Angelenos say they or their household was a hate crime victim.
“For me seeing that number is so very sad. No one should feel victimized—no exceptions,” Brianne Gilbert, Associate Director, Center for the Study of Los Angeles (StudyLA), told the Los Angeles Blade. “In our research at StudyLA, we know that perceptions of hate and actual acts of violence reported and classified by the police as hate crimes are two different things. The actual reporting of hate crimes to the LAPD or Sheriff’s Department is greater than the number of crimes deemed to be hate crimes. However, we also know that many, many hate crimes go unreported. At the end of the day, whether those incidences were either reported and not considered a hate crime or they were not reported is not a source of debate—the issue is that people believe they or members of their household were victims of a hate crime in 2018 alone. In one year alone! That’s terrible.”
The data is skewed by fear. “The fact that those numbers are so high compared to police data leads me to believe that individuals are too afraid to speak up or believe nothing can be done. That’s not OK,” says Gilbert. “We need more people to speak up and feel empowered to share what happened. Hopefully data points like the ones in our report will contribute to that empowerment. People are not alone. Hopefully moving forward, when we give hate a name, we identify it and condemn it…and then the tides can turn. Until that happens let’s not stop talking about it.”
Gilbert presented the study on May 2 to California State Assemblymember Richard Bloom’s Select Committee, which held a session on the “State of Hate” at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center. The public policy panel featured representatives from the Anti-Defamation League, the LA County Human Relations Commission, StudyLA and the LA Police Department’s Counter-Terrorism & Special Operations Bureau.
A spokesperson for Bloom told the Los Angeles Blade that the Select Committee’s hearings are happening at a time when anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, homophobic, transphobic and racist behavior is on the rise not only nationally, but within the state with experts exploring ways to more effectively address the issue of hate. The Select Committee’s first meeting came less than two weeks after a gunman armed with a semiautomatic rifle walked into a suburban San Diego County synagogue and opened fire on the congregation. That shooting killed one person and injured three in an attack that authorities believe was motivated by hate, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Brian Levin, director of California State University-San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism told the Los Angeles Blade last February that there were sharp increases in hate crimes with last year’s midterm elections. California had an 11 percent increase, with 56 percent of crimes being racially motivated and 22 percent directed toward the LGBTQ community, with the sharpest increase against minority trans women.
From October to December 2018, hate crimes in LA rose more than 31 percent, compared to the same period a year before, with African-American, LGBTQ, Jewish and Latino communities appearing to be the most frequent targets; LA was also the only city showing a decline in anti-Muslim hate crime.
“In 2018, the LGBTQ community overall in Los Angeles was the target of more crimes at 70, but gay males were second to African-Americans, with 56 and 61 respectively,” Levin said. “There were 17 transgender crimes in the city, down from 25 in 2017. That year, gay males were the most frequent target in the city with 65 criminal incidents.”
An FBI report released in Nov. 2018 detailing hate crimes across more than 3,000 police agencies showed a more than 17 percent uptick in 2017, fueled by increases in attacks against religious and racial minorities, The Times noted.
But the lack of documenting LGBTQ victims continues to be a problem, as Gilbert noted, with many agencies not identifying crime victims by sexual orientation or gender identity. Additionally, a spokesperson for the LAPD confirmed to the Los Angeles Blade, hate crimes are often underreported or not reported at all. The StudyLA survey suggests how much more extensive the issue of hate crimes may be and how much work remains for LGBTQ Angelinos to feel safe.