Overall, 61 crimes were reported in 2012, a drop of about 21 percent when compared with the previous year.


Published: May 23, 2013 Updated: May 24, 2013 10:11 a.m.

African Americans and gays were the most frequent targets of reported hate crimes in Orange County last year, according to a report released by the OC Human Relations Commission on Thursday.

Though the number of hate crimes in 2012 appeared to have dropped when compared with last year, members of the commission expressed concern about an increase in hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

According to the report, most of the reported hate crimes last year were vandalism, yet most of the crimes committed against people believed to be gay or transgender involved violence.

“When it comes to the LGBT community, over 50 percent were assaults,” said Rusty Kennedy, executive director of the commission.

Thirteen hate crimes against people perceived to be gay or transgender were reported in 2012.

Overall, 61 hate crimes were reported in 2012, a drop of about 21 percent when compared with the previous year.

Reported hate crimes against African Americans also fell, from 23 incidents in 2011 to 13 last year.

Ken Inouye, a board member of the commission, asked that the eight-page report be used as an instrument to help improve race relations in the county.

“The commission believes our mission will not be finished until there is no hate crime,” he said.

Officials pointed out that incidents could go unreported.

The commission also records reported hate “incidents” in the county, such as incidents where people may experience some sort of bigotry, but are not necessarily victims of a crime.

Rev. Everett Bell, director of Christ Our Redeemer’s Community Development Corp., such lines are hard to distinguish in the community, and urged people to look at the report and expand the conversation to what people in the community may be experiencing.

Some incidents may not be considered crimes, he said, but they could be perceived by those who experience them as unwelcoming and threatening to their safety.

Earlier this year, Christ Our Redeemer and the OC Human Relations Commission organized several “listening sessions” to urge members of the African American community to share some of their experiences.

Those sessions helped paint a fuller picture of what African Americans – who make up about two percent of the county’s population – and other minorities may experience, he said.

“It’s violent to me, on a psychological, emotional level,” Bell said. “As we capture it, we can ask ourselves, what’s happening here?”

Members of a panel invited to speak about the report urged early education and to address the issue of hate crime and incidents widely.

“It’s a community response,” said Kevin O’Grady, director of The Center OC, which provides programs, services and advocacy for the county’s LGBT community. “It starts at school, it starts at home, it’s also incumbent on the community to report hate crimes.”

Read the full report here.

Contact the writer: [email protected] or 714-704-3788