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Hate crimes up in SCV

Rate drops in county, and valley numbers remain low

Posted: November 19, 2009 9:47 p.m.
Updated: November 20, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
LOS ANGELES - The number of reported hate crimes in the Santa Clarita Valley increased slightly in 2008 while they dropped countywide, according to a county report released Thursday.

Both the SCV and the county saw notable increases in hate crimes based on sexual orientation. However, the SCV's hate crime numbers remained low overall compared to many other county areas.

Reported hate crimes in the Santa Clarita Valley jumped 11 percent, from 27 in 2007 to 30 in 2008, according to annual data compiled by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations.

The year 2004 saw about half as many hate crime victims in the SCV, with 14 reported, according to the data.

"We have noticed that it's increasing every year," said Los Angeles County sheriff's Deputy Gregory Chatman, who heads the sheriff's SHARE Tolerance Program that reaches out to youth in the Santa Clarita Valley and other areas.

"We noticed that regular (violent and property) crimes are declining," he said, "but there's a significant increase in hate crimes."

Thirteen of 2007's reported hate crimes in the Santa Clarita Valley were motivated by race or ethnicity. That number held steady in 2008.

Also in 2008, four hate crimes were motivated by religion, down from six the previous year.

The year 2008's most pronounced increase was in crimes based on sexual orientation - the SCV saw nine in 2008, up from five in 2007.

Four crimes were based on unknown motivations in 2008, compared to three in 2007, the data said.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles County had a 4 percent decrease in hate crimes overall, with 729 reported hate crimes in 2008 compared to 763 the year before, according to an annual commission report released Thursday.

Racial hate crimes decreased countywide by 16 percent. Those based on sexual orientation rose by 21 percent, due in part to the Proposition 8 campaign last year that moved to ban same-sex marriage, according to the report.

The most-targeted groups were African Americans, Latinos, gays and lesbians, and Jews, the report said.

About 22 percent of racial hate crimes countywide in 2008 were gang-related, and the share of hate crimes by white supremacists increased from 17 percent to 20 percent, according to the report.

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