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Hate Crimes on the Rise in the San Fernando Valley

Incidents in Los Angeles County increase by 15 percent in 2011 over the previous year.

Reported hate crimes in Los Angeles County increased by 15 percent in 2011 from the previous year, with the highest rate in the San Fernando Valley. However, the total is the second lowest in 22 years, according to the county Commission on Human Relations' annual report released Wednesday.

The commission defines a hate crime as one where hatred or prejudice toward a victim's race or ethnicity, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation was a substantial factor in the crime.

According to the 2011 Hate Crime Report, there were 489 reported hate crimes countywide last year, an increase of 62 from the previous year.

In April of 2011, targeting African Americans were spray-painted around the campus of Calabasas High School. Three boys were booked on felony vandalism charges, but were ultimately not charged with hate crimes. The vandalism at the school was however one the biggest headline-grabbing events in the county in relation to anti-Semitism in 2011.

Nearby Northridge was also the location of another hate-related incident— although it was not included in the report because it occurred in 2012— when three middle school girls, aided by one of their mothers, smeared syrup swastikas and human feces at the home of the son of an holocaust survivor.

"There are real victims -- these are our friends, family and neighbors," said commission Executive Director Robin Toma.

About 50 percent of the crimes were race-based, with 60 percent of those targeting blacks.     

The report showed that 65 percent of racially motivated crimes against blacks were committed by Latinos, and 41 percent of racially motivated crimes targeting Latinos were committed by blacks.

Crimes based on sexual orientation remained at about the same level as the previous year -- 25 percent of all of the hate crimes -- but were more likely to be violent than either racial- or religious-related hated crimes.

Religious crimes, which were primarily anti-Semitic in nature, rose 24 percent.

"It is disturbing that reported hate crimes in Los Angeles County are once again increasing after several years of decline," said Amanda Susskind, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights group with a focus on documenting and fighting anti-Semitism.

The highest rate of hate crimes took place in the San Fernando Valley, followed by the metro region stretching from West Hollywood to Boyle Heights. The Antelope Valley and the southeastern portion of the county had the lowest rates.

The commission's report was generated from data collected from sheriff and city police departments, school districts and community groups.

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