LOS ANGELES, Calif. November 10, 2016 – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today issued an information bulletin to law enforcement agencies across California, outlining state laws that prohibit hate crimes and other hate-related acts. Local California law enforcement agencies have reported an uptick in threats of hate crimes and other violent extremism. As a result, the bulletin encourages state and local law enforcement agencies to remain vigilant and respond appropriately to suspected or actual hate crime activity. The bulletin summarizes and reminds local law enforcement agencies about the multiple California criminal laws that prohibit hate crimes and/or provide enhanced penalties for specified hate-related acts.
The information bulletin provides recent statistics compiled by the Attorney General’s Office in the 2015 Hate Crime in California Report. While the total number of hate crime events has decreased 35.9 percent from 1,306 in 2006 to 837 in 2015, hate crimes and hate-related activity remain a significant problem. Hate crime events increased 10.4% from 758 in 2014 to 837 in 2015; the vast majority of this increase is attributed to an uptick in events involving religious bias. Such events are particularly damaging to our residents and communities when they involve threats of violence.
“We must protect all Californians from acts of hate and bigotry and when an individual is victimized because of their race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, we must act swiftly to ensure justice and accountability,” said Attorney General Harris. “Hate crimes are serious crimes that may result in imprisonment or jail time for offenders. This bulletin gives local law enforcement agencies the tools to both support victims of crime and investigate and prosecute those who perpetrate these despicable crimes.”
Last month, Attorney General Harris charged a Southern California man, Mark Feigin, with one felony count of criminal threats with a special hate crime allegation for posting anti-Muslim rhetoric and threats to the Facebook page of the Islamic Center of Southern California in Los Angeles and calling the center to make death threats. If convicted, the defendant faces up to six years in prison.
Over the past ten years, the most common type of hate crime has been related to race, ethnicity, and national origin bias. This type of bias accounted for more than half (51.1 percent) of all hate crime events reported last year. Within this category, hate crimes with an anti-black bias motivation continue to be the most common hate crime, accounting for 31.9 percent of all hate crime events since 2006.
The second most common type of hate crime over the past 10 years is hate crimes with a sexual orientation bias. The sexual orientation bias type accounted for 22.5 percent of hate crimes reported in 2015. Within this category, hate crimes with an anti-gay and anti-homosexual motivation have consistently been the most common bias sub-types. Together, they account for 87.2 percent of all sexual orientation bias hate crimes since 2006.
Attorney General Harris has made the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes a top priority and has convened community members and law enforcement to discuss ways to counter Islamophobia and religiously-motivated hate crimes. Following attacks on reproductive health clinics, she also convened local, state and federal law enforcement leaders and Planned Parenthood clinic directors to discuss the recent uptick in threats and violence and ways to increase coordination to better protect patients and health care workers.