California Hate Crime Reports Decreased in 2012

By Don Thompson
|  Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013  |  Updated 6:11 PM PDT
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Hate Charge for Teen Accused of Setting Bus Rider on Fire

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California Attorney General Kamala Harris points to a map as she speaks during a news conference in this file photo.

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The number of hate crimes reported in California declined about 12 percent last year and has dropped by more than one-third over the last decade, the state attorney general's office said Wednesday.

There were 930 reported hate crimes in 2012, down from 1,060 in 2011 and 1,491 in 2003.

Hate crimes based on the victim's race, ethnicity or national origin dropped 10 percent, from 587 in 2011 to 528 last year. But they still accounted for nearly 57 percent of complaints. Blacks have been the most common target, accounting for about one-third of victims in the last decade.

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Hate crimes targeting a victim's sexual orientation was the next largest category. Reports fell nearly 4 percent, from 244 in 2011 to 235 in 2012.

Within that category, hate crimes against gay men dropped from 111 in 2011 to 88 last year. But there were 77 crimes targeting gay men in 2003, making that category the only one to show an increase in the 10-year comparison.

Those involving a victim's religion dropped nearly 28 percent last year, from 201 in 2011 to 145 in 2012. Jews were once again the most common target.

The reports are submitted to the attorney general's office by California law enforcement agencies and district attorney's offices.

"While overall numbers are down this year, any hate crime hurts the people and values of California,'' Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a statement.

The report comes as officials are investigating four white students accused of harassing a black student at San Jose State University. They face misdemeanor hate crime and battery charges alleging they taunted their freshman dorm-mate with racial slurs, displayed a Confederate flag in the dorm suite, placed a U-shaped bicycle lock around his neck and barricaded him inside his room.

Civil rights leaders have called on Santa Clara County prosecutors to increase the charges to felonies.

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The attorney general's report tracks 308 hate crimes statewide that were referred by investigators for prosecution. Of those, charges were filed in 216 cases.

Of the 124 cases that were resolved in time for the report, 49 resulted in hate crime convictions, 58 brought convictions on other offenses, and 17 did not lead to convictions.

Violent hate crimes dropped 39 percent between 2003 and 2012, while property crimes decreased 27.5 percent over the same period.

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