Report: Hate Crimes in California Are Declining
California saw a more than 12 percent drop in the total number of reported hate crimes for 2012 and a more than 37 percent decrease since 2003, according to a report recently released by Attorney General Kamala Harris.
A hate crime is the act of intimidation, harassment, or violence against a person or property because of that person's real or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, ancestry, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age or disability.
The Hate Crime in California 2012 report, a collection of hate crime statistics submitted by every California police department and district attorney's office, totaled 930 hate crimes, a drop from 1060 in 2011.
In San Francisco, hate crimes decreased slightly with 46 reported in 2012 compared to 49 in 2011. Out of the 24 cases sent to prosecutors, 16 were officially filed as "hate crimes" in 2012.
"While overall numbers are down this year, any hate crime hurts the people and values of California," Harris said in a statement. "I am confident that California law enforcement will monitor and prosecute these cases to ensure severe consequence and accountability."
Across the state, the most common hate crimes were motivated by racial, ethnic and national origin, according to the report. Anti-black hate crimes were the most reported, accounting for one-third of the total hate crimes since 2003.
Anti-gay crimes increased from 103 incidents in 2011 to 116 in 2012. Still, that's a significant decline from 2003 when there were 218 reported hate crimes.
The state convicted 49 people for hate crimes, most of which occurred on highways or inside homes, according to the report.
Don't make comparisons between the number of hate crimes and convictions because a conviction can occur years after the actual crime happened. Other factors to consider: "cultural practices of individuals and their likeliness to report hate crimes to law enforcement agencies."
Next year, the FBI, which determines what is and isn't a hate crime, says it will add new categories, including crimes against gender non-conforming people and Sikhs. In addition, the FBI says community centers will be added to the "locations" category of places where hate crimes can occur.