The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations put out its annual numbers on hate crimes for 2019 on Friday, which noted while countywide reports remain on the rise over the past half-dozen years, they declined again for the reporting area that includes the Santa Clarita Valley.
“It is troubling that hate crimes in L.A. County have been rising for six years in a row,” said Robin Toma, executive director of the LACCHR, which writes the report. “We also saw the highest rate of violence in 12 years.”
Also good news, while the perfect number would be zero, the SCV sees a very small percentage of the hate crimes reported for its region.
For 2019, the most recent data available, Region 2, which includes approximately 2,248,000 people, reported 95 hate crimes, at a clip of 4.2 per 100,000 residents.
These numbers represent a decline from 2018, when the area of 2,262,277 county residents — which includes all of the San Fernando Valley, Westlake Village and the SCV — reported 111 hate crimes and 4.9 incidents per 100,000 people.
The report focused more on the trends surrounding the crimes and did not offer details on the times and locations of the report. However, it did mention one local example and shared a map with the general location. (Visit bit.ly/HateCrimeReport2020 to view the report.)
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, which also reports local hate crimes to the FBI for tracking, did not have the information immediately available Friday for local incidents.
The report breaks down the crimes by category, with a general map of locations for the incidents, including: gang-related hate crimes, crimes motivated by race/ethnicity/nationality; crimes motivated by sexual orientation; and hate crimes motivated by religion.
For gang-related hate crimes, the SCV hasn’t had a reported incident in the past two years recorded, according to the report. There were two racial hate crimes reported, again with details of the incidents not immediately available. One hate crime related to sexual orientation was reported in the Castaic area. There were three incidents of religious discrimination reported in 2019, all of which occurred on the east side of the SCV, according to the county map provided.
The one incident mentioned involved a Jewish woman, who was threatened with a slur after she told a male Latino suspect that he was being evicted. “The suspect then fashioned a noose out of a black cord and stated, ‘This is for you, you (expletive, anti-Semitic slur, expletive).’ The suspect has a history of alcohol abuse and abusive, anti-Semitic language,” according to the report.
Raising awareness in schools
While there may be a lower number of hate crimes reported, racism occurs everywhere, and the SCV’s largest school district also worked to address community concerns, which Mike Kuhlman, superintendent of the William S. Hart Union High School District, mentioned during a summer meeting of the governing board.
Kuhlman spoke to the governing board in response to the district being made aware of a series of “Shades of” accounts from Instagram. The social media accounts were set up as an anonymous forum for people to submit stories of racism or other prejudice they experienced on a local campus.
“I want the community to know that we are fully aware of recent social media posts alleging instances of racism and injustice in Hart district schools,” Kuhlman reported at the July 15 meeting. “While responding to unsubstantiated anonymous social media posts is challenging, we’ve nevertheless embraced this opportunity to look in the mirror as we work to understand what additional steps we can take to ensure that every student feels welcomed and appreciated in our schools. We stand against racism in the Hart district.”
In response, Kuhlman called on all Hart district principals to do the following: create “Equity and Diversity Collaborative” groups; evaluate “school climate” data and cite specifics on how they’re improving equity; and create a curriculum diversity workgroup, which will evaluate school materials in an effort to make sure they reflect an appropriately diverse perspective.
District officials confirmed Friday that all of these efforts are underway for the current school year.