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Hate Crimes on the Rise in the Valley

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Burning the Israeli flag and flashing swastikas on Westlake Boulevard.

Brandishing a weapon at a Ventura Blvd. protest against Hamas.

Yelling “Go back to Asia!” at a woman at Ralph’s Topanga.

Vandalizing a Jewish bakery in Sherman Oaks.

Which of these are hate crimes?

According to Detective Acevedo,  Hate Crime Coordinator with LAPD, only the second and fourth example.

“There is a difference between a hate crime – and a hate incident,” he explained. 

An incident is angry words shouted at an individual, or an offensive flag flown on someone’s own property. Those are not crimes as they are protected as free speech under the First Amendment.

“It’s not that they’re not offensive or disturbing,” Acevedo said. “But they don’t qualify as a crime.”

What does qualify is any  harmful activity, from a simple push to vandalism to murder, that is motivated by hate against a protected class. 

The six protected classes under the California Hate Crime Law are nationality, sexual orientation, race, gender, religion and disability. 

Any criminal action or attempt directed against a person motivated by hate comes under that heading. And those crimes are on the rise.

According to Detective Acevedo, the following statistics were  updated for the west valley as of October 21:

– 169 hate crimes against African Americans.

-110 hate crimes against the LGBTQ community.

–  104 hate crimes against Jews (up significantly from last year).

– 80 hate  crimes against Latinos.

-38 hate crimes against transgender individuals.

He stressed that if you are a victim of a hate crime – report it. And even if you are a victim of a hate incident, he urges residents to call it in or come in to the station to report it. “It’s not a matter for 911, but if we are aware of an individual’s actions we can keep an eye on the situation so it doesn’t escalate.”

With the rise in hate crimes, especially those that can be directly attributed to the ongoing war in the Middle East, Captain Boateng of the LAPD Topanga Station said he is sending out volunteer police in specially marked BMW’s with a city seal and light on top to sensitive areas – temples, mosques, churches and temples in the west valley. They will patrol and keep an eye out for suspicious behavior they can then call in to the station.

Many of these organizations have already put their own safeguards in place. A Jewish school in the valley had armed guards present at an athletic event. Others have stepped up their regular security patrols.

“Hate is not a crime in itself,” said Acevedo. “But actions motivated by hate are. LAPD takes these seriously, Every hate crime is reported to the Watch Commander, and if it’s egregious it goes all the way to the Chief of Police.”

Victims of hate crimes can also file a complaint with the Department of Fair Housing and Employment and/or seek civil remedies through court action under the Ralph Civil Rights Act, Cal. Civ. Code Section 51, and thereby secure restraining orders, actual damages, punitive damages, civil penalties and attorney’s fees.

For more information visit lapdonline.org/hate-crimes or call Detective Acevedo at (818) 756-3365.


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