Orange County Hate Crimes Rise 14%

Los Angeles Times
|
August 31, 2012

They called him words so vile that he wondered if they were taking some perverse pleasure in taunting him.

The slurs rang out each time he left or came home to the south Orange County condo he shared with his partner, reaching the point where he thought about just giving up and moving.

“They were destroying my life ... with the worst experience of my life,” said the Laguna Niguel resident, who asked to go by the initials D.P. to protect his identity.

The nine-month barrage of homophobic heckling, ending when the homeowners association finally forced his neighbors to leave, is part of the statistics in the county’s latest hate crime report, which — after years of decline — shows an upswing.

The annual report, released by the Orange County Human Relations Commission, details a 14% increase in reported hate crimes, most of them targeting people because of their race or religion. African Americans, who make up 2% of the county’s 3.2 million residents, suffered the most with 19 reported hate crimes.

In all, 64 reported hate crimes occurred in 2011, in a county that has grown increasingly more diverse.

“I would hope there would be a day when you wouldn’t see 64 documented hate crimes in our community,” said Rusty Kennedy, who heads the commission and who began recording the statistics 21 years earlier. “But I fear they’re happening much more frequently than we’re aware.”

The attacks on those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are among the most worrisome findings in the report, said commission supporters, citing concerns that the problem is festering in county schools.