Special Status Report

Hate Crimes Up Again: 14% in California’s Largest Cities in 2016, But Well Off Record Levels As Ideological Civil Conflicts Emerge

By Brian Levin, Director; Analytic Charting by Kevin Grisham, Assistant Director of Research; Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism-California State University, San Bernardino

Executive Summary

Hate crimes reported to municipal police departments in California’s largest cities, increased significantly, 14.2%, in 2016, according to a special status report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. California is poised for its first consecutive yearly increases in hate crime in two decades and these increases exceed those found nationally. Other types of ideologically motivated political violence affecting social cohesion, but not enumerated by traditional hate crime data reporting, appeared to have escalated as well.

In over one dozen cases of civil conflicts across the state, there were multiple injuries and hundreds of arrests or criminal charge referrals, after violent mass street or campus confrontations. California based extremists have become increasingly combative as they openly organize for violent confrontations on social media. Private groups confirm our findings of a 2016 post-election increase in hate crimes, showing increases in both criminal and non-criminal incidents, as well as an increase of hate groups in the state. California, with 39 million people is the nation’s most populous state, with 12.2% of the country’s residents. It has the largest number and an increasing level of hate crimes; the most hate groups; and an apparently escalating string of violent political confrontations and campus disruptions that have garnered national attention.

While there were over 800 hate crimes in 2015, less than 150 were prosecuted as hate crimes. In California, a hate crime is a criminal act of intimidation, harassment, physical force or threat toward a person or property because of someone’s actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, ancestry, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age or disability and is usually prosecuted under one of two main laws, a stand alone law and a penalty enhancer at penal code 422.6 and 422.7.

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