SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A new Justice Department report shows hate crimes have increased substantially since 2017, for every minority group reported on.
Overall, hate crimes have gone up 17 percent in California, but of the largest jump was against Hispanic and Latino men and women, jumping 52 percent.
READ THE REPORT: Hate Crime In California 2017
So what’s behind the spike in hate crimes?
Immigration rights groups blame President Donald Trump’s strict policies and vitriolic rhetoric against minorities.
“This rhetoric continues to target immigrant communities and here in California, we know a significant population are Latinos, and therefore not surprising to see, what we see at the national level,” said Christopher Sanchez of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights.
Sanchez is referring to hate crimes like the brutal Fourth of July attack of a 91-year old Mexican man in Los Angeles. He was beaten with a brick and told to “go back to his country.”
“It’s a fairly new phenomenon,” said UC Davis Professor Susan Miller.
Miller says perpetrators who commit hate crimes look for people who are vulnerable.
She specializes in the relationship between Jews and Muslims and says historically, most hate crimes in this country have been against Jews.
The study doesn’t ignore those religious groups, saying there was a 27 percent increase in anti-Jewish hate crimes, and a 24 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes last year.
Miller believes, Hispanics and Latinos may be increasingly under attack, due to the same disturbed mindset that sparked the Holocaust.
“It’s the same syndrome, you have a syndrome of hatred embedded in human personality, if unleashed and encouraged, and if there’s a leadership that sparks these feelings, then you have a rise in hate crimes,” she said.
She also says the statistics may not capture the entire increase. Earlier this year, a state audit found several large law enforcement agencies in California were not properly tracking hate crimes.