Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, Los Angeles County experienced an 11% surge in suspected hate crimes compared with figures for 2000, the county human relations commission reported Monday. The increase was the highest in 21 years of record-keeping by the commission.
The biggest increase in attacks occurred against Middle Eastern people and people perceived to be Muslim, but the commission also found an increase in incidents apparently motivated by sexual orientation. A total of 238 hate crimes were reported against gays, lesbians, and transsexuals in 2001, a 9% increase over 2000, the commission said.
Roger Coggan of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center said he could not determine whether the numbers represent a significant rise or more intense reporting by victims. But he acknowledged that the viciousness of the incidents has increased, as seen in the beating of two gay men with a baseball bat last week in West Hollywood, which left actor Trev Broudy, 33, critically wounded.
"It's a cause of great concern," said Coggan, the group's legal services director. "We need to create the climate that voices of hate are seen as totally unacceptable, and we need to make the connection that when people preach intolerance...that it's only a matter of time it's translated in a hate crime and a terrorist act."
Meanwhile, a $60,000 reward is now being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of two suspects involved in the brutal hate crime attacks that occurred against Broudy and another man.