Sep 6, 2023 - News

Hate crimes dip in San Diego amid surges in other major U.S. cities

Change in hate crimes among largest U.S. cities, 2021 to 2022
Data: Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism report; Chart: Axios Visuals

San Diego saw a significant decline in hate crimes last year, down 15% to 39 total offenses in 2022, according to a new report.

  • Meanwhile, hate crimes spiked in most of the nation's 10 largest cities, setting a record at 1,889 cases nationally.

Why it matters: It was the second straight year of increases in major metros' average number of hate crimes — typically defined as violence stemming from victims' race, color, sexuality, religion or national origin, Axios' Russell Contreras writes.

Context: San Diego's drop in hate crimes comes after the city hit a 12-year high in 2021 with 46 hate crimes reported, per the report. Those range from vandalism to threats to assault, SD Police Department data shows.

Zoom in: While the decline appears to be good news, these attacks are still prevalent locally.

Between the lines: The types of incidents in the San Diego area, including 2019's deadly synagogue shooting in Poway, suggest the city is a microcosm of what's happening in cities across the country, the center's director Brian Levin told Axios.

By the numbers: The San Diego County District Attorney's Office filed charges in dozens of hate crime cases perpetrated by adult offenders over the last five years. The vast majority were race-related.

  • 22 of 31 cases were race-based in 2018
  • 15 of 30 cases in 2019
  • 18 of 21 cases in 2020
  • 25 of 30 cases in 2021
  • 16 of 21 cases in 2022

Of note: Others involved sexual orientation, religion and gender bias.

The big picture: Los Angeles and Sacramento each hit a record number of hate crimes in 2022, while San Francisco and San Jose experienced dips, the report shows.

  • A decrease in hate crimes against Asian Americans contributed to that, yet California saw a rise in hate crimes overall.

What they're saying: San Diego's downtrend could be the "eye of the storm" as election season approaches, a time when hate crimes often spike in major cities, Levin warned.

  • These incidents also tend to pick up at the end of the year around religious holidays, he said.

Be smart: Witnesses and victims can report hate crimes to local law enforcement online or over the phone at (619) 515-8805.

  • Counseling and other resources are also available through a statewide hotline at (833) 866-4283.
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