How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Making sense of the new hate crime numbers

Photo by seanbonner/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A church sign in Los Angeles, January 2010

This week, both the FBI and the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations released reports on 2010 hate crimes statistics; a few months ago, the California Department of Justice released hate crime numbers for the state.

Going just by the headlines this week, the messages have been mixed. "Hate crimes drop to 21-year low in L.A. County," reads a headline today in the Los Angeles Times, while NBC Los Angeles' website displayed a more ominous sounding "Hispanics Top Target of Hate Crimes."

Which is it, bad news or good? A bit of both. While overall hate crimes in Los Angeles county have declined, down to 427 in 2010 from 593 in 2009, anti-Latino hate crimes within the county lines are up somewhat. This is reflected in the state numbers, which show the number of overall hate crimes in California staying fairly flat since 2009, but the number of anti-Latino crimes rising.