Hate ‘incidents’ on the rise in Los Angeles

Different from hate crimes, incidents are harder to categorize
Hate Crime


A stranger shouted racial slurs and hate-related language inside a single family home on Feb. 3, 2018. A homeless suspect attacked someone from behind while shouting profanities at a Del Taco restaurant on April 8.


These were just two of the 72 “hate incidents” reported to the Los Angeles Police Department last year, the highest count in the city in seven years.


Identified and recorded separately from official hate crimes by the LAPD, a hate incident is “a non-criminal act using words directed against a person’s actual or perceived race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender or gender identity.”


The key difference between a hate crime and a hate incident is whether or not the activity is punishable by law.


In another incident, a stranger shouted hateful language toward someone they perceived as gay while they were both riding the Metro Expo Line on Jan. 15, 2018. The LAPD labeled it a hate incident, as no other criminal acts were involved.


Such acts are protected by free speech in the California and U.S. Constitutions, according to Det. Orlando Martinez, head of the hate crimes unit at the LAPD.


While hate crimes have been steadily rising since 2014, hate incidents were actually decreasing until 2016. Then they went up again in 2017, with 31% more from the year before. Then they went up again in 2018, with 41% more than in 2017.


Hate incidents were distributed fairly evenly across the city last year. Hate crimes, by contrast, were clustered in Downtown and Hollywood, which were also the two neighborhoods in the city with the highest number of crimes overall.


For hate incidents, all 33 neighborhoods in the City of Los Angeles had three or fewer counts, with one notable exception: Fairfax.


Located east of Beverly Hills and southwest of Hollywood, Fairfax is a lively neighborhood that includes The Grove, The Original Farmer’s Market and the famous Canter’s Deli on the bustling Fairfax Avenue. It is also known as one of the city’s Jewish cultural hubs. Fairfax had six reported hate incidents in 2018, all of them occurring at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust in Pan Pacific Park.


For example, at 1:10 p.m on Dec. 4, 2018, a suspect shouted hate-related language in front of the museum.


This is also the site of a recent incident in early March of this year where officers discovered two large swastikas scrawled in blood on a concrete bench near the Pan Pacific Park restrooms and playground, just a short walk from the museum. The LAPD is investigating that as a hate crime, according to local news sources.


In the publicly available database of crimes reported to the LAPD, an incident may be recorded both as an official hate crime and a hate incident. Out of the 284 hate crimes reported in the city last year, two were also hate incidents.


One incident reported on June 16 in the neighborhood of Tarzana was considered a hate crime because the harassing “email, text message and other electronic communication” were labelled “hate crime materials” and involved “verbal threats.” It is unclear what separates these messages as criminal, however.


Other important details are also missing in the majority of reported hate incidents. Out of the 72 recorded incidents, only nine cases included the exact age and ethnicity of the victims, and only eight cases included their gender.


How we did it: We examined publicly available  LAPD data on reports of hate crimes and hate incidents from 2010 (the earliest available data) through 2018. For neighborhood boundaries, we rely on the borders defined by the Los Angeles Times. Learn more about our data here.


LAPD data only reflects crimes that are reported to the department, not how many crimes actually occurred. In making our calculations, we rely on the data the LAPD makes publicly available. LAPD may update past crime reports with new information, or recategorize past reports. Those revised reports do not always automatically become part of the public database.


Want to know how your neighborhood fares? Or simply just interested in our data? Email us at askus@xtown.la.