Photo via Wiki Commons
Photo via Wiki Commons

Hate crimes in Orange County dropped 18 percent in 2014 compared with the prior year, and more than 50 percent from a decade ago, according to the county Human Relations Commission’s annual report released Thursday.

There were 40 hate crimes reported in Orange County in 2014, a decline from 49 in 2013, according to the commission. There were 99 reported hate crimes in 2004.

Overall, violent hate crime was down in the county, but it still represented 57.5 percent of reported hate crimes, with 23, last year. There were 28 violent hate crimes reported in 2013.

The top target of hate crimes were black victims, a consistent trend in the county since 1991, officials said. There were 11 reported hate crimes against black people last year, the same as in 2013.

Just 2 percent of Orange County’s population is black.

There were eight hate crimes against gays and lesbians last year, one more than in 2013. There were six hate crimes directed at Jews last year, up one from 2013.

There were three against Arabs or Muslims last year, down from six in 2013, and hate crimes against Latinos and Asians matched 2013 levels at three.

“We’ve been seeing a steady and consistent decline in hate crimes, so it’s really good news,” said Rusty Kennedy, executive director of the commission.

He chalked it up to a “collaborative effort” with law enforcement and community organizations.

“We’ve been reaching 40,000 school kids a year for the last 25 years and I like to think those efforts, which are all oriented around tolerance, have grown up,” Kennedy said. “I have some people on staff that we had as teenagers.”

— City News Service 

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