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CA hate crimes increase for second year in a row

Sexual orientation accounted for a 10-percent increase; 207 last year, about three-quarters of those involved gay men.

California experienced an increase in hate crimes, about 11-percent, in 2016. This is the second consecutive year the state has experienced an increase, but that number is still lower than a decade ago reports The Associated Press.

Jewish people, African Americans, and gay men were the most frequently targeted.

 The state’s attorney general reported 931 crimes statewide, approximately 100 more than in 2015. That breaks down to be about one hate crime per every 42,000.

In 2007, there were 1,426 hate crimes reported, but the state had 3 million fewer people than in 2016.

Half of the crimes reported were against a person’s race or ethnicity.

Sexual orientation accounted for a 10-percent increase; 207 last year, about three-quarters of those involved gay men.

 Attacks on religious people were less than 20-percent, and those were mostly aimed at Jewish people, despite Donald Trump’s often pointed remarks about Muslims.

There has yet to be a statewide report of hate crimes since Trump became president.

Not since 1996 has there been a two-year back-to-back increase in these types of crimes. AP notes that the “number is less than half the spike that occurred in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 2001.”

Criminologist Brian Levin, a former New York City police officer who directs the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino says that Jews were a leading religious target.

"The good news is we have a lower number of hate crimes than we have in the past. The bad news is the trend is up," he said. "People feel disenfranchised, and there's a tribalistic tone that has come out."

Levin also surmises that gay men may be seeing a “spillover effect” as the LGBT community has become more visible in the media and in discussions of marriage equality.

Some say that Donald Trump’s vitriolic Tweets may be to blame for the increase in violence.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement, "Words matter, and discriminatory rhetoric does not make us stronger but divides us and puts the safety of our communities at risk.”

Racially motivated attacks increased more than 20-percent from 428 in 2015 to 519. And those targeting whites increased from 34 to 56, while crimes against blacks went from 231 to 251.

Forty-percent of those categorized as violent involved intimidation; 30-percent as assault. And a quarter were aggravated assaults. Ninety percent of property damage involved vandalism.

County prosecutors received more than 300 hate crime cases last year and they filed charges in 220 of them.

Those completed by the end of 2016 had an 80-percent conviction rate.