Hate crimes in Orange County increased by 24% last year compared to 2018, according to an annual report released Tuesday by the OC Human Relations Commission.
Hate “incidents,” which are reported encounters involving some sort of bigotry that doesn’t rise to the level of a crime, went down in the same period, according to the report.
There were 83 reported hate crimes in the county last year, up from 67 in 2018. Hate incidents decreased from 165 to 156.
The increase in hate crimes was the largest seen in the county in the last five years, according to the report.
Most often, the hate crime victims were targeted because of their race, ethnicity or national origin, at a rate of 47% last year. The second-highest reason was religion at 28%, sexual orientation at 18%, gender identity at 5% and disability at 1%.
Of the religious-based hate crimes, 52% targeted Jewish people, followed by Roman Catholics, Christians and Muslims at 14% combined, according to the report.
Of the hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation and gender identity, 78% were considered “anti-gay,” followed by misogyny at 11% and anti-transgender at 11%.
The hate crimes occurred in public places 37% of the time, 18% in places of worship, 17% in residences, 13% on school campuses, 12% in workplaces and in jails at 4%.
The top form of hate crime was vandalism at 44%, followed by aggravated assaults at 22%, simple assault at 13%, criminal threats at 9%, harassment at 5%, theft at 4%, assault and battery at 3% and arson at 1%.
Although hate “incidents” fell by 6%, the commission cautioned that hate incidents are “notoriously underreported for a variety of reasons.” The Southern Poverty Law Center estimates about 260,000 hate incidents go unreported each year nationally.
Religion, at 44%, was the main cause of hate incidents, followed by race-ethnicity-national origin at 39%, sexual orientation and gender identity at 15% and 2% for more than one reason.
Jews were the main target of anti-religion intolerance at 65%, followed by Muslims, targeted at 31%.
Of the hate incidents involving race or ethnicity, 51% involved Black people, followed by Latinos at 13% and mixed-races at 13%.
The top form of hate incidents was harassment and hate speech at 74%, followed by vandalism at 21%, simple assault at 3% and 2% aggravated assault.
The places where the hate incidents occurred most frequently were on school campuses at 44%, followed by 23% in workplaces or businesses, 15% in public, 7% on private property, 7% over the phone or online and 3% in places of worship.
Of the on-campus hate incidents, 41% were in high schools, 25% in middle schools, 19% in colleges and 15% in elementary schools.
Of the 30 cases brought to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution, 18 led to charges being filed, with eight rejected and four pending additional investigation. In 13 of the cases, hate crime charges were filed.
In 2018, 32 cases were brought to prosecutors, up from 17 in 2017 and a dozen in 2016.