Jan 5, 2024 - News

San Diego hate crimes rise following national trend

Change in reported hate crimes, 2022 to 2023
Data: Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism; Chart: Axios Visuals

San Diego saw a surge in hate crimes last year, with a 47% increase to 54 cases, according to a new preliminary report.

Why it matters: That's a 15-year high.

  • The spike is a stark difference from the previous year's report that showed hate crimes dipped in San Diego amid increases in most other major U.S. cities.

What they're saying: "San Diego did not escape this national trend," the report's author Brian Levin told Axios.

  • "The violence in the Middle East is reverberating back in San Diego and that's happening all over the country, particularly in cities that have larger Jewish and Muslim populations," he said.

What's happening: 2023 was the third straight year of spikes in the big cities' overall average number of hate crimes and came as the Israel-Hamas war sparked jumps in antisemitic and anti-Muslim hate crimes in recent months, Axios' Russell Contreras writes.

  • Hate crimes are typically defined as violence stemming from victims' race, color, sexuality, religion or national origin.

Zoom in: In San Diego, the targeted groups from hate crimes are based on race (20), LGBTQ+ (17), and religion (14), per the report.

  • Context: The number of hate crimes is high over the last decade, but on the low end compared to the early-mid 2000s.

Zoom out: Houston saw 85 hate crimes in 2023 — a 193% increase from the year before, an Axios review of an unpublished draft report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, found.

  • That was the largest percentage spike of any of the nation's 10 largest cities last year.
  • Chicago (43%) and Los Angeles (13%) also experienced surges and hit modern records dating back to the early 1990s when national hate crimes data collection began, the center said.

The big picture: The report reflects a 23-year trend of increasing hate crimes nationwide, driven in part by better data collection from police and state agencies.

Between the lines: The spike this year came amid a record surge of anti-Jewish cases, according to preliminary data.

  • Anti-Jewish hate crimes have supplanted Black Americans as the most targeted group in America's 10 largest cities — probably for the first time, the center said.

What we're watching: A new California law in effect this year requires police departments to publicly post data on hate crimes, which will offer a more accurate picture of the issue in real-time.

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.

Go deeper: Largest U.S. cities saw record hate crimes surge in 2023


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios San Diego.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More San Diego stories

San Diegopostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios San Diego.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more