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Hate Crimes Drop By 28 Percent In Los Angeles County

LOS ANGELES (CBS) —  Reported hate crimes in Los Angeles County fell by 28 percent in 2010 to the lowest level in 21 years, according to the county Commission on Human Relations' annual report released Thursday.

The commission defines a hate crime as one where hatred or prejudice toward a victim's race or ethnicity, religion, disability, gender, or sexual orientation was a substantial factor in the crime.

According to the 2010 Hate Crime Report, there were 427 reported hate crimes countywide last year, a decline of 166 from the previous year.

Fifty-one percent of the crimes were race-based, with 53 percent of those targeting blacks.

The report showed that 59 percent of racially motivated crimes against blacks were committed by Latinos, and 68 percent of racially motivated crimes targeting Latinos were committed by blacks.

Crimes based on sexual orientation remained at about the same level as the previous year -- 27 percent of all of the hate crimes -- but were more likely to be violent than either racial- or religious-related hated crimes.

Religious crimes, which were primarily anti-Semitic in nature, fell 17 percent.

"The overall decline in hate crimes is a good trend, but it is still disturbing the the overwhelming majority of those motivated by religions in Los Angeles County, statewide and across the country are against Jews and Jewish institutions," said Amanda Susskind, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights group with a focus on documenting and fighting anti-Semitism.

The report comes the day after Riverside County authorities announced they were investigating the carving of two swastikas discovered Wednesday in the lawn of a Palm Desert senior center.

The highest rate of hate crimes took place in the Antelope Valley, followed by the metro region stretching from West Hollywood to Boyle Heights.

The San Gabriel Valley and the southeastern portion of the county had the lowest rates.

The commission's report was generated from data collected from sheriff and city police departments, school districts and community groups.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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