Asian Americans at the prayer vigil prepared signs.
Asian Americans at the prayer vigil prepared signs in 2021. Photo by Chris Stone

Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta reported Wednesday that hate crimes in California rose by 32.5% in 2021, with the biggest increase in crimes targeting the state’s Asian community.

The annual Hate Crime in California Report released in Sacramento showed 1,763 reported hate crimes in 2021 compared to 1,330 in 2020. The number last year was the highest since 2001.

Hate crimes targeting Black people remained the most prevalent and rose by 12.5% from 456 in 2020 to 513 in 2021. But reported anti-Asian hate crimes increased the most dramatically, rising 177.5% from 89 in 2020 to 247 in 2021.

Among other categories of hate crime:

  • Sexual orientation — 47.8% increase from 205 in 2020 to 303 in 2021
  • Anti-Jewish — 32.2% increase from 115 in 2020 to 152 in in 2021
  • Anti-Hispanic — 29.6% increase from 152 in 2020 to 197 in 2021

A total of 89 hate crimes were reported in San Diego County with just over half in the city of San Diego.

Officials cautioned that hate crime is under-reported and the numbers in the report likely understate the true problem.

“Today’s report undeniably shows that the epidemic of hate we saw spurred on during the pandemic remains a clear and present threat,” said Bonta. “In fact, reported hate crime has reached a level we haven’t seen in California since the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11.”

Bonta said he will hire a statewide hate crime coordinator to assist local law enforcement in combating these crimes.

“As our state’s top law enforcement officer, I will continue to use the full authority of my office to fight back,” he said. “We will keep working with our local law enforcement partners and community organizations to make sure every Californian feels seen, heard, and protected.”

The California Department of Justice has collected and reported statewide data on hate crimes since 1995.

Under California law, a hate crime is a criminal act committed in whole or in part because of a victim’s actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or association with someone with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.

Chris Jennewein

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