Los Angeles

Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes Spike in LA County

Nearly a dozen anti-Muslim/Middle Easterner hate crimes were reported in Los Angeles County in November and December, compared with one such crime during the comparable period in 2014.

The analysis was conducted by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations in the wake of the terror attacks that occurred in Paris in November and San Bernardino in December.

"We expected there to be an uptick," said Robin Toma, the executive director of the Los Angeles County Commission of Human Relations. "We always hope and wish that we progress as a society [and] that people are less prone to acting out without thinking and not generalizing an entire group or religion based on the acts of a few, but we know that not everyone is there yet."

On the same day of the San Bernardino shootings, someone allegedly called and threatened to kill everyone inside of the Islamic Center in North Hollywood, the report said.

"Unfortunately, it's not like those things have never happened," Toma said.

Last December, a Hawthorne mosque was vandalized -- "Jesus is the way" was spray-painted on the walls. Crosses on the windows and a plastic grenade was placed on the driveway. The case was being investigated as a hate crime.

Among the 11 incidents recorded in November and December:

-- on Dec. 1 at a restaurant in Los Angeles, a man asked the victim, "Where are you from?" When the victim said he was from Saudi Arabia, the suspect yelled at him and punched and kicked him;

-- on Dec. 2, which was the day a married couple when on a shooting rampage in San Bernardino, an Islamic organization in North Hollywood received phone calls from a suspect who used profanity, ridiculed Islam, and "stated that he hoped that Israel would eliminate Palestine, Turkey and Syria";

-- on Dec. 3, an Islamic school in Hawthorne received a threat that everyone on the premises would be shot;

-- on Dec. 14, a suspect defaced the exterior of a middle school in Lake Balboa with graffiti that included expletives and anti-Islamic rhetoric;

-- on Dec. 17 at a park in South Los Angeles, a homeless person who is Muslim and from Iraq was punched by a man who used profane language and told the victim, "Go back to your country"; and

— on Dec. 19 in Chatsworth, a man found his motorcycle scratched and spray-painted with anti-Arab language.

On Dec. 15, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a motion to condemn the Dec. 2 attack that killed 14 people at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, to recognize that "no religion or race or ethnicity is responsible for these acts," and that "fear-based stereotyping and scapegoating creates an atmosphere conducive to Islamophobia, xenophobia, discrimination, hate and bigotry."

The motion directed county agencies to increase outreach and assistance to the targeted vulnerable communities.

Last month, the Los Angeles Countywide Criminal Justice Coordination Committee established a task force to promote stronger relations and cooperation among police agencies and affected communities, and to more effectively prepare for any future incident that could result in a spike in hate crimes.

The Los Angeles chapter of CAIR, Council on American-Islamic Relations, did not return NBC4's messages seeking comment.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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