BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — An alarming report shows hate crime has increased statewide and is notably the highest it has been in nearly two decades in Los Angeles County.
State-reported hate crimes increased by almost 90% in the last decade, with Los Angeles County hate crimes surging at the highest levels since 2002, reporting 786 victims of hate crimes, a 23% increase over 2020.
Among the reported hate crimes in the state, Blacks, Latinos, Jews and LGBTQ individuals were among the most-targeted groups. In Kern County, the numbers are steady, but for Rabbi Shmuel Schlanger of Chabad of Bakersfield, it is still time for the hate to end.
“No to hate, no to antisemitism, no to racial discrimination, no to fighting, to hating, to our differences, why don’t we focus on what we have in common because it is so much more than the minority, each and every person, or community,” said Schlanger.
Last year in Kern County, there were ten events where a hate crime was involved and 13 offenses where a criminal act took place, like vandalism or aggravated assault, of those crimes were 12 victims. Of course, there could be more, but the most challenging part is having enough evidence to prove the event of a hate crime.
“A lot of it is actually trying to prove that it was an actual hate crime, the person’s intent that it was a hate crime, so the nuances within the law is really what is the problem,” said Bakersfield NAACP President Patrick Jackson.
According to the district attorney’s office, hate crimes “Do not account for a great deal of criminal cases filed in Kern County. However, when a crime is identified by law enforcement and investigation yields evidence that the crime is motivated by the suspect’s targeting of race, religion, or other protected classes, hate crime charges will be considered and filed if supported by evidence.”
However, Jackson hopes the numbers will decrease in Kern County by coming together as a community.
“We are stronger together than we are a part, and so as we come together, we’ll be able to solve some of these issues, break down some of these barriers, and hopefully some of these people that would maybe do some of these crimes, we’ll be able to soften their hearts, but if not, we’re definitely going for justice,” said Jackson.