Report: 30 Cities See Increase In Hate Crime While San Diego Remains Steady
A new report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino shows hate crime is up in 30 cities across the country. Director Brian Levin joined KPBS Midday Edition co-host Jade Hindmon to talk about what’s driving hate crimes and how they can be stopped. The transcript below has been lightly edited for clarity.
Q: We know there's been a steady increase in hate crime. But what did this recent report reveal? How big is the increase and how does San Diego factor into all that?
A: Well San Diego bucked the trend. It was unchanged with 41 hate crimes. Race or ethnicity were responsible for 22 of the hate crimes in San Diego followed by sexual orientation at 14 and anti-religion at 6. San Diego, interestingly enough, was flat reflecting pretty much the rest of the state because California as a whole in 2018 was actually down slightly. But the attorney general's numbers I don't think really capture the outlying areas that haven't been participating enough and also did not include three homicides. Nationally this 9% increase again is the steepest rise since 2015.
Q: Just this past weekend the mass shooting in Gilroy that left three people dead and a dozen injured may have been connected to white supremacy. The report says that while total the total number of extremist homicides decreased, white supremacist homicides increased. Can you explain that?
A: We saw a cratering in violent jihadis killings. There was only one last year and it was by a young person who stabbed somebody. In the meantime, we saw white nationalists homicides, and we specifically look to those that are motivated by white supremacists, jump from 13 in 2017 to 17 in 2018. There were about 22 homicides nationally. Interestingly enough, the majority of these homicides took place around election time. So that's something as well. And we had the worst act of anti-Semitic mass murder that was targeted to Jews, leaving out 9/11, with respect to the attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Q: You mentioned a divisive election season you know you predict this trend will continue. Why and how can it be stopped?
A: We need leaders to tone it down. When President George W. Bush spoke after 9/11 at the Islamic Center of D.C. about tolerance and said people who harass Muslims should be ashamed of themselves, hate crimes dropped by two thirds the next day and two thirds the next year. However, when candidate Trump spoke about the Muslim ban proposal, that month for anti-Muslim hate crimes was the third-worst. So I think we have to tone it down and I think what we're seeing is flashing yellow lights, international conflict, a polarized political season as well as demographic changes, particularly with young people you talked about. We had two 19-year-olds in California who appear to be influenced by hate on the internet. So what we're seeing is even though hate groups have imploded, they're inspiring people because of the web presence and there's a 24-hour hate rally and bookstore available on the internet and we think that may have influenced these younger people.