Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta
California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta releases the annual hate crimes report. Image from official video

Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta released a report this week showing hate crimes in California increased by 31% in 2020 compared to 2019 with anti-Asian incidents rising the most.

At 1,330 incidents in 2020, overall hate crimes in the state are at their highest reported level in more than a decade. 

“For too many, 2020 wasn’t just about a deadly virus, it was about an epidemic of hate,” said Bonta. “There was a surge in anti-Asian violence correlated with the words of leaders who sought to divide us when we were at our most vulnerable.”

The annual report by the state’s Criminal Justice Statistics Center showed the following trends in hate crimes:

  • Anti-Asian incidents rose from 43 in 2019 to 89 in 2020 — the biggest category increase at 107.0%
  • Anti-Black incidents were the most prevalent, and increased 87.7% from 243 in 2019 to 456 in 2020
  • Anti-Hispanic or Latino incidents rose from 110 in 2019 to 152 in 2020, an increase of 38.2%
  • Hate crimes motivated by religion decreased 13.5%, with anti-Jewish events falling 18.4% from 141 in 2019 to 115 in 2020;
  • Hate crime events involving sexual orientation fell 12.0% from 233 in 2019 to 205 in 2020; and

However, officials said hate crimes in California are generally underreported and the data presented in the report may not reflect the actual number of crimes that occurred.

Along with the report, Bonta issued a law enforcement bulletin and guidance for prosecutors to ensure law enforcement officials have the necessary information to respond swiftly to hate crime activity in the state. The guidance includes how to properly identify and investigate hate crimes, and how to ensure uniform application of hate crime laws.

 “I urge law enforcement and all Californians to make use of the tools being provided,” Bonta said. Together, we can tackle hate in all its forms.”

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.