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Over 400 Hate Crimes Reported In San Diego County Over The Past Five Years

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A new analysis by the San Diego Union-Tribune of hate crime data in San Diego County shows what kinds of hate crimes occur in the region and where.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 Hey crimes are widespread in our area, but the majority of them happen right in the city of San Diego. And New report from the San Diego Union Tribune analyzes five years of hate crime data. Between 2014 and 2018 there were 437 incidents. Lindsey weekly public safety reporter with the San Diego Union Tribune has been covering this story and says the numbers may be even higher. So what's being done about it? Lindsay joins us with details. Lindsay, welcome. Thank you so much for having me. You know, as I said, more than 400 hate crimes were reported in the last five years in the county. Talk about what you found in terms of the nature of the incidents and who's being targeted. Just to

Speaker 2: 00:43 give a little bit of background, um, we've obviously written a lot about hate crimes since the incident in Poway happened. Um, and we wanted to try and take a look at hate crimes in a different way. And for this project, we were really focused on location. We really wanted to give people a sense of where are these hate crimes happening and who's being affected. Um, and, and if you've taken a look at the project, um, you can go online. There is a, a very big map and what it really shows, I think at the core is that so many communities across San Diego county are connected to some kind of hate crime. Um, there was an, there were incidents all across the region. Um, but sort of specifically what we ended up finding was, um, most hate crimes happened in San Diego, the city of San Diego. Um, however, more than 20 communities across the region saw hate crimes in that timeframe. The most common type of hate crime was anti LGBTQ hate crimes, followed very closely by anti-black hate crimes. Um, Anti Hispanic and anti-Jewish were also quite common.

Speaker 1: 01:54 And you, you spoke with someone who believes the number of incidents against Latinos may actually be undercounted. Is that right? Yes,

Speaker 2: 02:02 and I will just say, I think all of the hate crime categories were undercounted hate crimes are notoriously under-reported. Um, like unfortunately many other crimes. And so this really is a snapshot of hate in the region. It is certainly not an encompassing picture, um, because there are a lot of reasons why people don't want to report hate crimes. Whether that's because certain communities don't have good relationships with, um, law enforcement, whether they just don't have faith that anything will happen and they're, they're just concerned that they're going to go through this very traumatic reporting experience and, and nothing will be done about it. And, you know, unfortunately the prosecution numbers really do sort of back that up. You know, we had 81 reported hate crimes in 2018 and 30 of them were successfully prosecuted.

Speaker 1: 02:50 And can you give us one or two examples of the disturbing stories you learned about?

Speaker 2: 02:54 That was definitely something that we wanted to put some energy into. Just trying to find personal stories of individuals who had, um, suffered hate crimes and just the impact that that had had on them as individuals. And, um, it's the, it's essentially the story that I lead this piece off with. Um, but a woman and her boyfriend were getting their car serviced in point Loma and they are walking down the street to when they notice that somebody is following them. Um, this woman was white, her partner then was black. Um, and the man behind them, they noticed pretty quickly had white supremacists, tattoos. He sort of approaches them and things quickly escalate. He ends up taking out a knife. He threatens to kill them. They're sort of trying to pacify him as they move back to um, their car mechanic who ends up seeing what's going on and calls nine one one.

Speaker 2: 03:52 Um, he ended up being prosecuted because he had a history of hate that really helped that case. To me it was a story that really showed how unfortunately unpredictable hate crimes can often be. I mean, these people were just walking down the street waiting for their car to get worked on and they were attacked simply for existing and it was just, yeah, I remember hearing that story and it really gave me chills. And you mentioned earlier how challenging it can be to prosecute hate crimes. Why is that really a boils down to having to prove intent? You know, obviously a crime needs to have occurred, but then you have to prove that the reason why that person committed that crime was because of some kind of anti bias towards the individual that they attacked, which is one of the reasons why many experts that I spoke to during this project talked about the importance of reporting hate incidents, even if they don't cross the threshold into criminal activity.

Speaker 2: 04:50 Because what that does is that really helps prosecutors later on down the road, pieced together this person's background so that they can kind of successfully argue a history of hate. And that helps prove hate crimes in the future. So after looking at this data and talking with law enforcement prosecutors and community members, all of them, you know, what is actually being done to combat hate. I will say I think a lot, there's a lot of county-wide unity kind of to do something about hate crimes. Um, community leaders are very focused on education, on making sure that we know each other. It is so much more difficult to commit a hate crime against somebody that you understand that's not a stranger to you all the way down to law enforcement. You know, a, the San Diego Police Department really recognizes that it has a role to play in making sure that the community feels comfortable in reporting hate crimes. And so they have an LGBTQ liaison who works very closely with that community to make sure that anytime somebody is a victim, that they, um, have the support that they need to become survivor. And I thought that that was a really interesting thing. I've been speaking with Lindsey wink, Lee public safety reporter with the San Diego Union Tribune. Lindsay, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you so much for having me.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.