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Study: Hate Crimes Soaring In City of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Hate crimes in the city of Los Angeles hit multi-year highs in 2016 , according to an analysis released Tuesday by Cal State San Bernardino researchers. That is a 15 percent overall increase.

The university's Center on Hate & Extremism found that the number of hate crimes jumped from 200 in 2015 to 230 last year.

Researcher was driven in large part by a 64 percent surge in violent aggravated assaults, an 18.5 percent rise in racially motivated crimes and a 24.5 percent increase in crimes against the LGBGT community.

"Catalytic or national events can impact the number of hate crimes, but so do local events, economics and individual conflicts at the neighborhood level," said Brian Levin, director of the CSUSB center. "It's a combination of things."

At the same time, religious hate crimes against Jews and Muslims declined significantly in the city during the period, the researchers found.

There have been no bias homicides reported by the Los Angeles Police Department in the last two years.

By comparison, aggravated assaults overall in the city during 2016 rose about 10 percent, and the number of robberies increased 13 percent.

"The city of Los Angeles prides itself on being a multicultural haven," said Dr. Kevin Grisham, the center's assistant director for research. "It's troubling to see significant increases in these crimes."

Levin said the majority of hate crimes remain unreported, some due to the controversy over immigration.

"We're worried that with the increase in attention paid to immigration issues, many victims will be hesitant to report hate crimes for fear of deportation," he said.

Of the localities surveyed, Los Angeles had the third-largest number of hate crimes in the nation, with only New York and Boston reporting more, the researchers said.

The three dozen reported aggravated assaults include physical attacks with a weapon or attacks capable of producing serious bodily injury. Hate crimes are criminal acts motivated in significant part by the actual or perceived group characteristic of another such as race, religion and sexual orientation.

For Los Angeles, the 2016 hate crime totals were the highest since 2008, when the city recorded 280 hate crimes.

While 2016 marked the third annual consecutive increase, last year's totals are still far below various highs tallied in recent decades.

In 2001, the year of the 9/11 terror attacks, Los Angeles had 559 hate crimes, the highest number so far this century.

In 1992, official data did not accurately include the 60-plus people killed and others injured in rioting following the state trial acquittal of the officers involved in the videotaped Rodney King police beating, according to the report.

While Los Angeles had three straight years of rising hate crime, the nation has not seen consecutive increases since 2004.

(©2015 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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