© 2000, Western Criminology Review. All Rights Reserved.

A Profile of Race-Bias Hate Crime in Los Angeles County

Karen Umemoto

C. Kimi Mikami

 

University of Hawai`i at Manoa

Department of Urban and Regional Planning

Citation: Umemoto, Karen and C. Kimi Mikami, "A Profile of Race-Bias Hate Crime in Los Angeles County." Western Criminology Review 2(2). [Online]. Available: http://wcr.sonoma.edu/v2n2/umemoto.html.

Abstract

This article presents a descriptive profile of race-bias hate crimes in Los Angeles County using primarily law enforcement data collected during 1994-1997. Geographic information systems technology is used to map 1,837 reported bias incidents. Maps are created to locate clusters where hate crimes occur in relatively high density. Interviews and archival research were conducted in two "cluster" areas. Findings include the location of clusters and the racial characteristics of victims and suspects involved in the incidents located within clusters. While previous research has shown that hate crimes are usually perpetrated by individuals who are not members of organized hate groups, this preliminary study suggests we may find more frequent membership of perpetrators in gangs where hate crimes cluster. Related to this, there is strong evidence of race-bias hate crime among racial minority group-based gangs in which the major motive is not the defense of territorial boundaries against other gangs, but hatred towards a group defined by racial identification regardless of any gang-related territorial threat. The article concludes with a discussion of the uses of hate crime data in the study of race relations and outlines directions for future research.


Keywords: Los Angeles, GIS, hate crime, race relations, crime mapping, spatial analysis


A Profile of Race-Bias Hate Crime in Los Angeles County*

Hate crimes pose a serious social problem that scholars and policymakers have argued is, in many ways, more threatening to civil society than other types of crimes. Hate crimes tend to be excessively brutal, especially in the case of bias against persons due to their sexual orientation, race, or gender. They are also random in that perpetrators select their victims based on bias not against that individual but against a whole group with which that individual is associated. Furthermore, hate crimes are more likely than other crimes to be committed by multiple perpetrators, a feature contributing to their severity and brutality (Jenness and Broad 1997; Herek and Berrill 1992; Levin and McDevitt 1993). Due to their very nature hate crimes engender a particularly high level of psychological stress, fear, and anxiety. There is no way for potential victims to protect themselves since it is difficult or undesirable to disguise their inherent identities. Prolonged proliferation of hate crimes in a geographic area can lead to wider neighborhood division and social fragmentation.1

A great deal of attention has been paid to the issue of hate crimes over the past decade as reports of brutal and unnerving events headlined the news. In 1989, Yusuf Hawkins was shot and killed after he and three other African American teenagers walked into the predominantly white, working class neighbohood of Bensonhurst in Brooklyn, New York. The spring 1995 bombing of a federal office building in Oklahoma city turned national attention to the growing problem of organize hate groups in the U.S. More recently, in the summer of 1998, several men dragged James Byrd Jr., an African-American man, from a pickup truck for three miles, leaving body parts strewn along the road. In the fall of 1998, University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepherd was brutally and fatally beaten based on the fact that he was gay. In 1999 there were more bias-related mass shootings, including the massacre of twelve students and a teacher on the grounds of a Colorado high school in April, an interstate shooting spree by a World Church of the Creator sympathizer in July, and another mass shooting at a Los Angeles Jewish day-care center in August.

A number of high-profile, racially motivated cases occurred in the midst of a campaign initiated by President Clinton under the banner of his "Initiative on Race." In line with this initiative, the President convened a White House Conference on Hate Crimes on November 12, 1997 while announcing new law enforcement and prevention initiatives. In 1999, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act was introduced which would have allowed for greater federal involvement in hate crimes. Although the bill failed to pass, the issue of hate crimes remains on the national agenda.

A number of important scholarly works on the problem of hate crimes have contributed to the national discourse. Numerous books have been published that greatly contribute to our understanding of different types of bias crimes (Jenness and Broad 1997; Levin and McDevitt 1993), including those against lesbians and gay men (Herek and Berrill 1992; Herek et al. 1997). Comparative studies have been conducted on the characteristics and causes of hate crimes and mass hate internationally (Hamm 1994a; Kelly and Maghan 1998; Kressel 1996). These and other studies have examined various social conditions and dynamics that lead to such violence (Green, Glaser, and Rich 1998). They have also contributed to ongoing policy debates over hate crime legislation (Grattet, Jenness, and Curry 1998; Lawrence 1999). Controversies have arisen over a number of legal and policy issues, including the definition of a hate crime, the danger of organized hate groups, prevention programs, appropriate punishment for hate crime offenders, and possible legal infringements on citizens’ freedom of speech (Jacobs 1998; Jacobs and Potter 1998; Roleff 1999).

This article contributes to the subject of race-bias hate crimes within this growing literature. Race-bias hate crimes comprise the majority of hate crimes among bias motives in the US (US Department of Justice 1997). The subject of race-bias hate crimes can be studied as one aspect of the broader issue of racial violence. Chronicles of racial violence in the US trace the problem back to the colonial period (Newton and Newton 1991). Recent works have examined the problem of race-bias hate crime, including case studies of individual race-bias incidents (Kelly 1998a, Pinkney 1994), the activities of white supremacist organizations (Hamm 1994b; Kelly 1998b), and interminority group violence (Levin and McDevitt 1993).

This study presents a spatial profile of race-bias hate crimes in a major US metropolitan city. We are particularly concerned with the impact of repeated patterns of race-bias hate crime perpetration in geographically defined areas. We show how it is possible to locate neighborhoods that have experienced or are experiencing a repeated hate crime pattern using geographic information systems (GIS) technology. ArcView, a GIS software program, is used to identify clusters in Los Angeles County where there are patterns of race-bias hate crimes according to the racial identification of the victim and the perpetrator. For example, Figure 1 shows the spatial distribution of race-bias hate crimes by race of victim for the four-year period. We employ maps to provide a spatial description of race-bias hate crimes in Los Angeles County using primarily law enforcement data collected during 1994-1997. From the identified clusters, we have selected two areas for further case study research. We present a set of findings from the case studies and from the preliminary examination of clusters. We conclude with an outline directions for future research. First, we begin by providing some background to the data, an explanation of methods, and a description of major trends. 

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METHODOLOGY

Definition of a Hate Crime for Data Collection

There are several different pieces of legislation that have led to the collection of hate crime data by federal, state, and local government agencies. The Hate Crime Statistics Act (28 U.S. Code 534) was enacted in 1990. It requires the U.S. Department of Justice to collect data from local law enforcement agencies for crimes that "manifest prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity." This was expanded to include "disability" with the passage of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The California state legislature recognized a growing trend in bias motivated crimes and passed a hate crime statute in 1987 that made threats and acts against persons or property a separate and specific type of crime punishable by law if motivated by bias against the race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation of an individual. Noting gaps in the original definition, it later added gender and disability to the designated list of categories in 1991. Additional amendments to the California penal code were made in 1994.2

As law enforcement agencies implemented this legislation, state and local agencies issued operational guidelines for classifying hate crimes, such as the Hate Crime Collection Guidelines issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI defines a hate crime as "a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin."3 The California Penal Code includes not only criminal acts but also attempted criminal acts. The state penal code includes victims who are perceived as belonging to one of those victim categories. At the local level, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and the Los Angeles Police Department developed guidelines4 for hate crime classification in accordance with state and federal law see Appendix A).

Data Sources

Hate crime data for Los Angeles County is collected primarily by local law enforcement agencies and then compiled by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations (LACCHR) and the California State District Attorney. Los Angeles County includes eighty-eight cities as well as several noncontiguous unincorporated areas. Many of these eighty-eight cities have their own police departments while some cities contract police services with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The LACCHR gathers hate crime data from cooperating police and sheriff’s departments. These data account for the vast majority of hate crime reports analyzed. The Commission also collects data from various organizations that handle complaints of hate incidents, such as the Anti-Defamation League. For comparative analyses with national data, Los Angeles hate crimes are limited to those officially reported by law enforcement agencies. For the purposes of identifying spatial patterns and their characteristics, all records are analyzed. There are no duplicate records across the reporting agencies.

Figure 2 shows the location of race-bias hate crimes in relation to the non-reporting jurisdictions (see Appendix B for a list of reporting cities in Los Angeles County). The dark amber shading covers areas in which law enforcement agencies reported in none or one of the years between 1994-1997. The light amber shading covers areas in which law enforcement agencies reported during two to three of those years. The unshaded areas are those in which law enforcement agencies reported in all four years. The black dots represent race-bias incidents during the four-year period. Major streets and highways are also shown. The uppermost section of the county is not shown here.5

The hate crime data used for this analysis are those that conform to the guidelines put forth by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office (see Appendix A). After the LACCHR collects the data, each record is reviewed according to the guidelines used by the LA County District Attorney’s Office. Those records that do not conform to the guidelines are eliminated from the database.

Limitations of the Data

There are two major types of limitations of the data. One has to do with reporting and a second has to do with categorizing data.

Limitations in reporting. First, as with crime reporting generally, there are numerous problems with consistency in reporting among different population groups and for specific types of hate crime. Gender-bias hate crimes are likely to be underreported if they exhibit reporting problems similar to crimes involving sexual abuse. There is also likely underreporting among certain population groups. Organizational spokespersons for hate crime monitoring groups have argued that immigrants and refugees, along with African Americans disaffected with law enforcement, often do not report hate crimes (Hamilton 1994). The majority of immigrants and refugees in Los Angeles are from Latin America and Asia. This may result in lower hate crime counts for those groups.

Second, there may be errors in reporting the identity of the perpetrators, as it is not always possible to confirm the accuracy of perpetrator information provided by victims. There may also be errors in the identity of the victim, as perpetrators may mistakenly identify their victim as a member of a racial group to which the victim does not belong. A 1992 Hate Crime in Los Angeles County report states that Asian Americans are "commonly targeted due to mistaken identity" (LACCHR 1993). For example, a Thai woman was mistaken for Korean and beaten, a Pacific Islander was mistaken for an African American, and a non-Japanese was assaulted with anti-Japanese slurs. Unless reporting agencies make a distinction between the victim’s identity and the victim’s identity as perceived by the perpetrator, there may be some inaccuracies in counts.

Third, there are inconsistencies in reporting between and within law enforcement agencies. Not all law enforcement agencies provide regular training to their officers on the reporting and investigation procedures for hate crimes. There are also workload disincentives in some agencies to report hate crimes. There is normally additional paperwork and procedures required for hate crime cases. Additional requirements can affect the rate of reporting, especially when time constraints are a problem.

Problems in classification. Problems associated with classification of hate crimes have to do with information originating from victims as well as the classification of information by data collecting personnel such as police officers. Victims do not always fully disclose information or may not be completely truthful in their reporting of incidents. This may lead to over or under counts of hate crimes. There is also ongoing controversy about what constitutes a hate crime among individual officers despite existing definitions and guidelines. While there are general definitions and guidelines, classification requires the use of judgement in each case. Subjectivity on the part of officers also affects classification decisions. Gerstenfeld (1998) cites several studies to suggest that police officers and crime victims are more likely to label an event as a hate crime if it is committed by an African American than if committed by a European American.6

There are also differences between law enforcement agencies in the classification of gang-related crimes as hate crimes. Some law enforcement agencies, such as the Long Beach Police Department in Los Angeles County, do not classify gang-related crimes as hate crimes even if the characteristics of the crime fit the definition of a hate crime. According to their classification practices, crimes committed by gang members are, by definition, motivated by reasons associated with gang membership and should not be considered hate crimes. In contrast, agencies such as the Los Angeles Police Department consider gang-related crimes to be hate crimes if the crime conforms to the definition and if turf rivalry does not appear to be the primary motive of the perpetrator. This outstanding debate in the profession contributes to differences between agencies in hate crime counts.

Finally, there are cases where the recorded race of the victims and perpetrators do not accurately represent the nature of the hate crime. For example, there are several instances where the victim was reportedly European American, but the crime was motivated by anti-African American hatred (e.g., criminal acts directed toward the white partner in an interracial relationship). There are also several cases where the races of Chicano, Middle Eastern, Turkish, and Armenian persons were categorized as "white". This could lead to some confusion in cases where, for example, white supremacists victimized Middle Easterners, because reports suggest that these cases are "white" on "white" hate crime. There are also several cases where both victim and perpetrator are of the same racial group but where the victim is an immigrant, reflecting an interethnic bias as opposed to an interracial bias. We paid careful attention to this problem in the treatment of the data.

For all the reasons stated above, these data can give an inaccurate picture of the problem and additional investigation is needed to make strong conclusions based on them. At the same time they are not fatally flawed (Gerstenfeld 1998). The numbers can be useful in identifying patterns and trends in certain areas with appropriate qualifications.

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Analysis

Spatial Analysis and Descriptive Statistics. We geographically located hate crime incidents using ArcView 3.1, a geographic information systems (GIS) software program.7 Hate crime records for the years 1994 through 1997 were imported into ArcView and batch matched using ArcView’s embedded geocoding program. After interactively rematching unmatched addresses and correcting erroneously matched incidents, 2,478 (73.2 percent) of the incidents were matched (including both "good" and "partial" matches), 38 (1.1 percent) remained unmatched (address could not be matched), and 867 (25.6 percent) were unmatchable (incomplete address or no address given) out of a total 3,383 reported incidents.8

Clusters were identified using ArcView 3.1 Spatial Analyst Extension to display geographic concentrations or "hot spots." The ArcView GIS program uses the technique of kernel estimation or kernel smoothing, which is a spatial statistical method that generates a map of density values from the point data. Kernel smoothing creates a raster image in which the density at a given location reflects the concentration of points in the surrounding area. This technique overlays a fine grid over the study area and measures distances from the center of the grid cells to each observation or point within a given bandwidth. Points falling closer to the center of the grid cells are given greater weight than those farther away (Williamson et al. 1999). The raster image is comprised of a set of contour loops or isolines that are irregular in shape and has the same value, in this case level of density, along its entire length. Sets of contour loops or isolines are drawn in increasing or decreasing order to construct an isopleth map.

We then overlayed the original dot density map over the raster image or isopleth map.9 We visually identified clusters based on a typology using the racial characteristics of victims and perpetrators, as explained below. We visually examine the maps in this exploratory study, but more sophisticated methods based on statistical significance would be useful for further study. Descriptive statistics were used to present a profile of all hate crimes and race-bias hate crimes in particular.

Interviews and Archival Research. We conducted interviews and archival research to gather additional information on a number of the identified "hot spots" in order to gain a better understanding the nature of the phenomena in specific geographic areas. In addition, we conducted two case studies: Hawaiian Gardens and Antelope Valley. Antelope Valley includes two cities of Palmdale and Lancaster. The two case studies are located in the jurisdictions of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Hawaiian Gardens Police Department, the latter of which is currently under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.10 We conducted interviews with officers responsible for hate crimes at two LAPD precincts as well as the detective in charge of hate crimes housed in the Criminal Conspiracy Section of the LAPD. We also interviewed a former officer with the Hawaiian Gardens Police Department who policed the city during much of the time period under study. We interviewed four staff members of the LACCHRC, along with the Deputy District Attorney in charge of the Hate Crime Suppression Unit of the LA County Office of the District Attorney. We also met with three staff members of the West Los Angeles office of the Anti-Defamation League and several community outreach workers in south Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.

Archival materials included police reports, newspaper articles, minutes of meetings, correspondence, and flyers and announcements pertaining to conflicts in select cluster areas. Newspapers included the Los Angeles Times and New Times. Articles in the Los Angeles Times were used extensively for the Antelope Valley cluster and a New Times feature story along with meeting minutes, correspondence, flyers and announcements were used for the Hawaiian Gardens case study. LACCRC reports were also reviewed for this study along with police preliminary investigation and follow-up reports for incidents that occurred in several cluster areas.

Race-Bias Hate Crime Patterns and Trends in Los Angeles County

Trends and Comparisons

Analysis of the data suggests that hate crime is a more severe problem in Los Angeles than the rest of the nation. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s hate crime data collected from law enforcement agencies, there were 46 reported hate crimes per one million persons in 1997 for the nation as a whole.11 In Los Angeles County, there were 92 reported hate crimes per one million persons for that same year. Both the national and county rates were calculated using only data reported by law enforcement agencies and using population counts only for those reporting jurisdictions.12

It is important, however, not to draw strong conclusions from these comparisons (see Gerstenfeld 1998). Agencies that submitted data to the FBI were required to include data for at least one quarter of 1997 and partial reporting is not controlled for. It is possible that many reporting jurisdictions submitted data that underreport the actual number of incidents relative to law enforcement personnel in Los Angeles County, some of whose agencies implemented hate crime reporting and training much earlier than many agencies nationally. Furthermore, political attention to the problem of hate crimes in the Los Angeles region may result in better reporting than is true in other jurisdictions. If these numbers are an accurate count of hate crime incidents the rate of victimization in Los Angeles was twice that of the nation in 1997 (See Figure 3). This is probably an overestimate of the magnitude of difference, but it is very likely that the rate is higher in Los Angeles than in the rest of the nation.

This same pattern can be shown for race-bias hate crimes. Race-bias crimes accounted for two-thirds of all reported hate crimes (race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and disability). The rate of victimization for race-bias crimes in Los Angeles was over one and one-half times (1.64) greater in Los Angeles than the US as a whole (see Figure 4).13

Not only do the data suggest a higher rate of race-bias hate crime, but they also show a decrease in the rate for the nation and a simultaneous increase for Los Angeles County. According to these figures, the rate of hate crime per million residents14 has been decreasing slowly in the US, from 53 crimes per one million residents in 1995 to 46 in 1997. In contrast, Los Angeles County appears to have experienced an increase in the rate during that same period for all hate crimes (See Figure 3). The same divergence in trends appears using figures for race-bias hate crimes. According to Figure 4, the US rate has declined slightly (from 38 hate crimes per million persons in 1995 to 32 in 1997), while increasing slightly (from 50 in 1994 to 53 in 1997) in Los Angeles County.

Again, it is important not to draw strong conclusions from these numbers. The decline in the rate of victimization nationally may paradoxically be a result of better reporting. That is, more agencies have been reporting to the FBI over time, but many of the new reporting agencies may not have the requisite training or developed systems to accurately report the frequency of hate crimes (Rovella 1994). At the same time, reporting agencies in Los Angeles may be improving their data collection systems. The following section examines some of the characteristics of hate crimes using both law enforcement and non-law enforcement data for Los Angeles County.

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Characteristics of Hate Crimes in Los Angeles County

From 1994 to 1997, race-bias hate crimes in Los Angeles County account for nearly three-fourths (72 percent) of all reported hate crimes (see Figure 5). While the number of reported hate crimes differs each year, the proportion of all hate crimes that are classified as racially motivated has remained relatively constant.15 These figures mirror the distribution of hate crime among major categories of bias nationwide in 1997.16

The vast majority (nearly four-fifths) of race-bias hate crimes are directed against persons (versus property). Of the 1,776 race-bias hate crimes reported to police and sheriff departments in Los Angeles County over the four years studied, 1,394 (78.5 percent) are personal crimes; the remaining 382 (21.5 percent) are crimes against property. In comparison to religious-bias hate crimes, race-bias crimes have a higher ratio of personal crimes to property crimes. Sexual orientation-bias hate crimes also have a higher ratio of personal crimes to property crimes, an even higher ratio than race-bias hate crimes (see Figure 6).

Victimization and Perpetration Patterns. We analyze victimization patterns for race-bias hate crimes in three ways: 1) by race of victim, 2) by race of perpetrator, and 3) by gender of victim. For these analyses, only Los Angeles County Police and Sheriff Department data are used. Figure 7 compares the numbers of race-bias victims for each racial group from 1994 to 1997. Figure 8 compares the numbers among perpetrators.

The most notable trend in victim data is the disproportionate rate of increase in the victimization of African Americans and the sheer number of race-bias hate crimes committed against African Americans compared with the other major racial groups (see Figure 7). The number of African American victims of racially motivated hate crimes increased by 70 percent from 1994 to 1997. The number of Asian American and Pacific Islander victims increased by 21 percent (see Table 1). In contrast, race-biased hate crimes increased by only six percent for European Americans and actually decreased by 8.4 percent for Latinos. Victims in other racial categories, including Middle Eastern and Armenian Americans, started to appear in 1995 reports with fifteen reported victims; this number has remained relatively constant through 1997.

Table 1: Change in Racial Victimization and Perpetration in Los Angeles County,
1994 to 1997 (Police and Sheriff data only).

Race

Number of Victims
Number of Perpetrators
Victimization Change
Perpetration Change

Years

1994
1997
1994
1997
1994-1997
1994-1997

Asian/Pacific American

29
35
2
9
20.7%
350.0%*

African American

158
269
78
65
70.3%
-16.7%

Latino

83
76
103
164
-8.4%
59.2%

European American

84
89
100
119
6.0%
19.0%

*Note that the high percentage increase among Asian and Pacific American
perpetrators is largely a function of change in a small number of cases.

In contrast to victimization trends, there has been a slight decline in the number of reported African American perpetrators while there has been an increase in numbers among all other groups (see Figure 8). The sharpest rise in the number of perpetrators has been among Latinos (a 59.2 percent increase) followed by European Americans (a 19 percent increase). While the percentage increase is greatest among Asian American and Pacific Islander perpetrators (350 percent), this somewhat misleading since the numbers are so small (an increase from two perpetrators in 1994 to nine perpetrators in 1997). By 1997, the increase in the number of European American and Latino perpetrators, respectively, is more than double the number of African American perpetrators. Meanwhile, the number of African American perpetrators declined by 16.7 percent.

The disproportionately high rate of African American victimization is particularly disturbing given their proportion of the total county population. In 1997, African Americans comprised 56 percent of all race-bias victims while the they represent only ten percent of the total county population (California State Department of Finance (see Figure 9). African Americans were the only group for whom the proportion of victims was greater than their proportion of the total population. For all other groups, the proportion of total victims was equal to or less than their share of the county population. The percentage of Asian American/Pacific Islander victims is very close to their proportion of the county population, roughly ten percent. The proportion of European American and Latino victims ranges from approximately fifteen to thirty percentage points less, respectively, than their share of the total LA County population.

Turning to patterns in gender, victims of race-bias hate crimes are men more often than women by a factor of about two to one. The number of male victims steadily increases from 208 (70 percent) in 1994 to 260 (72 percent) in 1997. The number of female victims increases from 91 (30 percent) to 127 between 1994 and 1996 and then drops back to 102 (28 percent) in 1997 (see Figure 10).

Identification of Race-Bias Hate Crime Clusters

This study finds that race-bias incidents cluster in certain geographic areas. As stated earlier, the hotspot function in ArcView is used to identify the location of major clusters (see Figure 11).17 This method identifies areas with relatively high densities of hate crimes by displaying the distribution of points in the form of an isopleth map. This displays the location of points as a set of isopleth lines, each encompassing a given proportion of the total number of incidents on the map. Shading encompassed by each isopleth line denotes a relative degree of density. In Figure 11, the differences in shading denote differences in density, with the darkest shade representing area of highest density and the lightest shade representing area of lowest density. We combine the isopleth map with a visual examination of an overlayed dot density map to identify clusters.

The racial characteristics of victims and perpetrators are examined within or near areas of medium to high density. The patterns are classified using the typology presented in the matrix in Figure 12. This typology is based on the racial characteristics of the victims and perpetrators. We used these characteristics based on the assumption that a cluster might represent the location of intergroup tension or intergroup conflict. A typology based on both the victim’s and perpetrator’s racial characteristics allows us to identify not only clusters where a particular group is victimized or is victimizing, but where there may be a pattern of victimization by one group against one or more racial groups or retaliatory action between members of two or more racial groups.18

The clusters as categorized by the racial characteristics of victims and perpetrators are as follows:

There are over a dozen clusters in Los Angeles County.19 The most concentrated cluster pattern is the one-on-one followed by the many-on-many and the one-on-many. In contrast, the more dispersed cluster pattern is the many-on-one. The most frequently found cluster is the one-on-one. The most difficult to analyze is the many-on-many, as it often involves a combination of other types of clusters. These clusters occur in areas where the crime rate is relatively high, across all categories of crime, and may involve motives in addition to racial bias. In the following section, we locate the clusters and describe some of the characteristics found in each of the cluster types based on police records, archival data and preliminary field research. These maps do not include the Antelope Valley (north of the area shown) for readability purposes, but that area is featured in the case study section that follows.

Geographic Location and Racial Characterisitics of Clusters

The most frequently appearing pattern is the one-on-one cluster (see Figure 13 and Figure 14). The clusters are circled in each of the figures. In this section, we present countywide maps that identify the location of clusters by cluster type (Antelope Valley to the north is not displayed for reasons of readability). We also present one close-up map for each cluster type. The countywide maps show the distribution of race-bias hate crimes using color-coded dots. Each color represents the race of the victim (Asian American/Pacific Islander=yellow; African American=black; Latino=red; European American=blue; Native American=green; Other=purple). The close-up maps also show the distribution of race-bias crimes using color-coded dots (these are the same as countywide maps except that Native American and Other are combined and coded as green). However, in the close-up maps we displayed the dots in different shapes that represent the race of the perpetrator (Asian American/Pacific Islander=octagon; African American=circle; Latino=triangle; European American=square).20 For incidents in which the race of the perpetrator is not known, we display the event as a small circular dot, color-coded to denote the race of the victim.

One-on-one clusters comprise six of the fourteen identified clusters. They are located across the county, including areas of Antelope Valley (not shown), Hawaiian Gardens, Harbor Gateway, East County, Watts, and upper South Central. In almost all of these cases, perpetrators of one racial group clearly outnumber victims of another group. We call these "dominated" clusters (see Figure 13). South Central is the only one that appears contested (see Figure 14).

A close-up of one such cluster is shown in Figure 15. The Harbor Gateway cluster is mainly comprised of cases where African Americans are victimized by Latino perpetrators. Within the Harbor Gateway corridor, there are actually two separate clusters, one of which is in the area of Normandale Park and the other north of the park.

The second most frequently found cluster pattern is the many-on-many (see Figure 16). This cluster appears to occur in areas where crimes of all types are higher, in public areas where people from all parts of town are known to frequent, or in areas that have a residential mix of different racial groups. They are found in areas of San Fernando Valley, Hollywood, MacArthur Park, Santa Monica, and San Pedro.

A close-up example of a many-on-many cluster is presented in Figure 17. This shows the pattern of crimes by race of victim and perpetrator for the Hollywood cluster. While there are both victims and perpetrators of different racial groups in this cluster, the northern half of this cluster contains a one-on-many pattern centered along one of the major streets.21

Another pattern is the one-on-many (see Figure 18). These clusters are found in the upper reaches of the San Fernando Valley, including Sunland-Tujunga and the northwestern section, along with the beach cities of the south bay, including Manhattan, Redondo, and Hermosa Beach.

The close-up map zooms in on the Sunland-Tujunga cluster (see Figure 19). Like the other one-on-many clusters, it is mainly comprised of White perpetrators and victims from all racial groups.

The fourth type of cluster pattern is the many-on-one. There are no clusters that squarely fit in this category during this time period.

Table 2 presents a brief summary of the racial characteristics of the clusters by cluster types.22 This table presents the ratio of the number of victims to the number of perpetrators among each racial group for each cluster.23

 

Table 2. Ratio of Victims to Perpetrators for Each Racial Group by Clusters, Los Angeles County, 1994-1997

 

CLUSTER TYPE

 

CLUSTER

 


(N)

 

ASIAN AM/PI

 

AFRICAN AM

 

LATINO

 

EURO AM

 

OTHER

One-on-One

Hawaiian Gardens

16
0:0
14:0
1:14
1:0
0:0

East County

45
0:0
41:0
1:38
3:3
0:0

Harbor Gateway*

57
1:0
53:1
1:42
2:3
0:0

Watts

54
1:0
8:39
40:6
4:0
0:0

Antelope Valley**

73
0:0
56:6
6:2
9:40
1:0

Upper South Central (contested)

35
1:0
15:14
15:15
4:1
0:0

One-on-Many

Sunland

44
2:0
19:3
8:3
13:29
2:0

South Bay Beach Cities

26
2:0
15:0
6:3
2:18
0:0

Upper San Fernando Valley

107
18:0
37:12
15:6
33:52
4:0

Many-on-Many

Central San Fernando Valley

95
2:3
59:14
16:20
17:34
0:0

Hollywood

64
2:3
39:5
10:14
11:26
2:0

MacArthur Park

65
9:6
32:6
12:29
11:12
1:0

Santa Monica

24
0:0
10:7
4:3
9:9
1:0

San Pedro

28
2:0
17:4
2:8
6:7
1:0

*Harbor Gateway includes the Normandale Park cluster.
**Antelope Valley includes the cities of Palmdale and Lancaster

 

Further quantitative and qualitative analysis would be needed to explain the distribution of victims and perpetrators across clusters and cluster types. For the purposes of this article, we refer to this table to make three major observations. First, the racial group most frequently victimized in all but two of the clusters is African American. Of the two exceptions, one cluster shows African Americans victimized as often as members of the perpetrating group (Latinos). Only in Watts do African Americans account for the vast majority of perpetrators against victims, who are largely Latinos. Second, Latinos and European Americans constitute the largest number of perpetrators among all of the clusters. Latinos are the largest number of perpetrators in six of the cases while European Americans are in seven of the cases. And third, the one-on-many cases involve mainly European American perpetrators and African American victims while all but one of the one-on-one cases involved mainly Latino perpetrators and African American victims.

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Case Studies

In this section, we present two brief case studies from this ongoing research project: Hawaiian Gardens and the Antelope Valley. The selection of cases is based on the preliminary observations above. The case studies include one cluster in which the perpetrators are predominately Latino and one in which the perpetrators are predominately European American, both of which include predominately African American victims. The selection of the two case studies is based on two additional considerations: the availability of data on the hate crimes and the availability of information about the characteristics of the geographical area affected. The main sources of data for both cases are police reports, newspaper articles, and interviews with law enforcement and human relations personnel.

It is unclear how representative the two selected cases are of other clusters with similar racial characteristics, but there are similarities among them that are important to note. Among the one-on-one clusters, there are particularly strong similarities in four of the cases in which the perpetrators are Latino and victims are African American: Hawaiian Gardens, Harbor Gateway, Azusa and Normandale Park.24 All involve some or many perpetrators who are identified in police reports as being affiliated with or possibly affiliated with street gangs in those geographic areas.25 The vast majority of victims in the four clusters had no known gang affiliation, according to police reports as well as field interviews. Police comments in incident reports noted racial hatred among crimes in those neighborhoods. These comments, along with field interviews and newspaper articles, suggest that gang-related hate crimes were intended to keep, in at least these four cases, African Americans from entering or living in those neighborhoods. For example, an LAPD incident report describes the gang activity in the Normandale Park neighborhood, as follows: "This gang has been involved in an ongoing program to eradicate Black citizens from the gang neighborhood."26

The Antelope Valley case shares important characteristics with one-on-many clusters in that the perpetrators in these clusters are predominantly European American. It is important to note, however, that there is variation in the proportion of the various non-white groups that comprise the victim population in these clusters. Antelope Valley, for example, does not involve Asian American victims like the other one-on-many clusters. There is also variation in the level of dispersion of incidents over the cluster area. The one-on-many ranges from tightly bounded (as in Sunland-Tujunga) to more dispersed (as in the upper San Fernando Valley).

Hawaiian Gardens

The city of Hawaiian Gardens is located on the southeastern edge of the county on the border of the neighboring Orange County. The city was founded in 1964 and occupies less than one square mile. It is a working-class residential neighborhood with a commercial corridor and some light industry. The median income is $29,379, while 20.6 percent lived below the poverty line.27 The median income for the county at that time was $39,035 with a poverty rate of 15 percent in 1989. In 1997, Hawaiian Gardens was a city of an estimated 14,600 residents. According to the 1990 census, about two-thirds of the residents were of Hispanic origin.28 Asian Americans are nearly ten percent of the population with those classified as "other race" slightly less than one-fourth of the population. According to the 1990 census, only 620 (five percent) of the residents were African American.29 Law enforcement and human relations personnel interviewed state that new African American families were beginning to move into the city in the mid-1990s at about the time the city experienced a rise in hate crimes.

Between 1996 and 1997, 34 hate incidents were reported by the Hawaiian Gardens Police Department (HGPD). The HGPD was established in 1995 and was terminated in 1997 due to lack of funds. Prior to their establishment and following their termination, the city contracted police services with the LA County Sheriff’s Department. Of the 34 incidents documented during the tenure of the HGPD, 26 were cases in which police reports were filed. The majority of incidents (26) took place in 1997, but had been increasing in number since at least 1994. Between October 1996 and May 1997 there were three murders. In one of these murders, the suspect was found guilty and sentenced to 86 years in prison with an enhancement for perpetrating a hate crime. Other reported hate crimes and incidents included arson, terrorist threats, assaults, battery, and verbal threats. Five of the families victimized by hate crimes moved out of the area during that period.30 All but one of the victims were African American and all of the suspected perpetrators were Latino.31 A Hate Crime Collaborative was formed to bring together representatives from the public schools, law enforcement, social services, private foundations, and other government and private agencies to address the problem. An article in the New Times likened the Hawaiian Gardens to "a miniature version of South Africa in the darkest days of apartheid."32

One of the most disturbing characteristics of hate crimes in Hawaiian Gardens during this period was the brutality of violence by members of the local gang against African Americans who were clearly not affiliated with any gang. Victims included young elementary school age girls and middle-aged women. Many African American men were also victimized, including many who exhibited no physical signs of gang membership or who were known in the community as not being members of a gang. One law-enforcement official confirmed that there were no African American gangs in Hawaiian Gardens to speak of. This was a case in which Latinos, many of whom had gang affiliations, were victimizing individuals based on racial identification that had nothing to do with gang rivalry or defense of territorial boundaries against other gangs.

The various incidents indicate a pattern of racial animosity and prejudice. A report compiled by members of the LACCHR and the Hawaiian Gardens police department chronicled 39 incidents.33 Among these in 1995, was one where an African American whose house was firebombed while one of five suspects allegedly yelled the "N-word." In 1996, at least six African American young men, including a college student, were threatened or assaulted. In late 1996, Martin Eli Hammonds, age 27, was murdered after being shot several times while standing at a traffic light on a major thoroughfare in middle of the afternoon. His family had been victim of arson fires previously. He, along with his mother and her two daughters, had repeatedly been victims of racial harassment in their neighborhood. In May 1997, Virgil Henry, age 24, was savagely beaten to death with a baseball bat after being mobbed by ten to fourteen Latino adults and teenagers. He had just stepped off a bus and was on his way to visit relatives. A former police detective who investigated the case called it "one of the more vicious crimes I've come across...His brain was literally oozing out on the pavement."34 Later that month, Demario Young, a 29 year old clothing salesman was murdered while removing dresses from the back of a van.

The two murders that occurred in May 1997 took place during the month with the highest number of incidents during that three-year period. Thirteen of the 39 incidents (one-third of the total) occurred in that same month. Most of the incidents were attributed to members of the generations-old Barrio Hawaiian Gardens (HG) street gang and to the younger set called the Loquitos. In a New Times newspaper article, an interview quoted one of the members of Loquito as explaining, "Three [murders] ain't that much.... Believe me, there should be a lot more dead ones. They know if they come into our neighborhood they better get the fuck out." His friend was quoted as saying, "Niggers come here thinking they're gonna take over, but there ain't no blacks [sic] here and there never will be."35 Dozens of African American families moved out of the area. Pearl Hawkins, mother of the slain Martin Eli Hammonds, said of the exodus, "They’ve had the money to move…. We took our money and buried my son."36

City and local school officials were reluctant to acknowledge the racial violence. The former Hawaiian Gardens police chief, Walter McKinney, pointed to this reluctance in stating, "You don’t get this kind of ugly pattern in a vacuum; there has to be an environment for it. I’d say there’s a lot of denial in the community."37 Councilman Ralph Cesena was quoted as saying, "There have been a few things happen, but overall, people of different races get along here." Even the principal of the local junior high school, Paul Gonzalez, appears to deny that there was a problem, stating, "We teach tolerance here…There are no problems to speak of."38 Despite this, the principal of a county school for students with special-needs refused to register any more African American students in Hawaiian Gardens out of concern for their safety.39

The intensity of hate crimes and the exodus of African American residents from the area is similar to the phenomenon usually associated with the work of white supremacist hate groups or their sympathizers in smaller towns. But in this case, the organized entity was a Latino street gang. This raises important question: Can hate crimes perpetrated by members of gangs be dismissed as merely gangs-related crimes even though the basis of a victimization appears to be racially motivated? This question is very pertinent because many law enforcement agencies currently refuse to classify any crimes perpetrated by gang members as hate crimes. They argue that the primary motive in gang related crimes against members of another racial group is the defense of territory and turf against rival gangs. This case suggests that there may be an emerging pattern of hate crimes committed by street gangs in defense of racial homogeneity more generally. This, of course, protects against intrusion by potentially rival gangs, but represents a much greater danger since victims are targeted based primarily on their racial identification. This can lead to "ethnic cleansing" of neighborhoods within major metropolitan areas. Interviews with the staff from the LACCHR confirms that similar phenomena are found in other clusters of this type.40

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Antelope Valley

Antelope Valley sits sixty miles north of downtown Los Angeles. The two unincorporated cities of the valley, Palmdale and Lancaster, have experienced dramatic demographic and economic change during the 1990s. Residents and experts say that this is partly responsible for the reported rise in hate crimes during the mid-1990s. In 1980, European Americans made up 84 percent of the population in Palmdale and 86 percent in Lancaster. By 1990, the population declined to 75 percent and 73 percent, respectively. The decline continued and by the mid-1990s, European Americans comprised approximately 60 percent of the population in the valley. Meanwhile, the proportion of African Americans doubled between 1980 and 1990 to six percent in Palmdale and seven percent in Lancaster. The Latino population also increased over this period and included almost twenty percent of the valley’s population by 1990.41During this period, the region also experienced economic decline. The population in the Valley was heavily reliant on the aerospace industry, which suffered drastic layoffs during the recession of the late 1980s continuing into the 1990s. Residents of the Valley saw a rise in home foreclosures, homelessness, crime, poverty, and welfare dependency.42 This lowered rents and housing prices, attracting newcomers from income backgrounds lower than those currently residing there, adding a class dimension to pre-existing racial tensions.

Over the period from 1995 to 1997, a series of high profile hate crimes occurred. One of the first publicized hate crimes in 1995 was a case in which three members of a skinhead group called the Peckerwoods fired six shots into a parked car. Four African Americans who were sitting in the car were injured, including a one-year old child. This took place near a high school in the middle of the day. Bullets grazed two of the victims while the two others were injured by broken glass. Authorities charged the suspects with intending to kill the African American occupants of the car. According to an LA County Sheriff’s deputy testimony at a hearing, one suspect was heard stating, "We're going to go kill some niggers."43 The three pled guilty to the charges and were given prison terms.44 Later that month in February 1995, two carloads of white youths chased a group of black students walking home from Hillview Middle School as they taunted them and flashed white power signs. Both this incident and the shooting incident were blamed on the Peckerwoods.45

The Peckerwoods are a white supremacist gang with organized networks in the state prison system. A sheriff's deputy and gang expert explained that they identified the Peckerwoods in 1989 and estimated their membership to be around eighty to one-hundred in number. The group takes its name from an old epithet some African Americans use to refer to Whites. Law enforcement officers stated that the gang population was increasing in the valley. Locally, the Peckerwoods and a splinter group of the Peckerwoods who call themselves the Nazi Low Riders, had expressed their hatred toward minorities in a number of violent acts prior to these two incidents.46

The local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) reported receiving complaints of other incidents during this period, including a drive-by shooting, an increase in hate graffiti, and two incidents in which groups of African Americans were beaten up by whites yelling racial slurs.47 These incidents prompted the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission to conduct a study that resulted in a report entitled, "Skinheads in the Antelope Valley." The report made numerous recommendations, including the formation of a local governmental body to address the issue, diversity hiring and training for law enforcement officers, and a hate crime policy for public schools.

In 1996, there was another series of high profile hate crimes. Early in the year, a suspected skinhead gang member stabbed an African American student in the back with a screwdriver on the campus grounds at Antelope Valley High School in Lancaster. Then in July 1996, an African American teenager was injured after being slashed with a machete-like weapon by several skinheads. Marcus Cotton and his female cousin were walking to her home in Lancaster when three men driving by yelled "white power" and gave a Nazi-style salute. The cousins tried to flee and were chased down. Cotton was beaten and slashed, suffering minor injuries.48 The Los Angeles Times followed this story concerning Marcus Cotton and his cousin. In one article, the Times stated that suspect Danny Williams confirmed that he was a skinhead and quoted him as saying, "I just want to live with people of my own color. … Even some black people want to live with nothing but blacks." He had been beaten after arriving in prison. The Cotton incident was followed by several reports of hate crimes perpetrated by African American men against white victims in Lancaster. These events prompted the LA County Sheriff’s Department to double the gang enforcement team in the valley.

There were other events in the summer of 1996 and throughout 1997 that did not receive the same amount of media coverage, but continued to raise fear and racial antagonism. In May 1996, an African American teenage male was followed by a group of fifteen White suspects and was threatened with a knife by one suspect who told him, "you’re dead nigger." In July, there was another incident involving a large group of suspects. Thirteen white boys and girls, ages nine to sixteen, attacked and beat five African Americans, ages seven to nine, while yelling, "Niggers. Go back to Africa!" The victims were playing in front of a relative’s house on the Fourth of July weekend. During the short attack, several groups of adults from the neighboring houses allegedly shouted, "Kill the niggers."49 Over the years 1996 and 1997, there were 39 separate incidents of assault including assault with a deadly weapon, vandalism, battery, and terrorist threats against African Americans.50 These incidents were surrounded by political battles as civil rights organizations continually advocated for a more effective response from city officials, who were criticized for their lack of initiative in implementing earlier recommendations.

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CONCLUSIONS

This preliminary spatial exploration of race-bias hate crimes in Los Angeles County reveals a number of insights that are relevant to race-bias hate crimes generally and to our understanding of the phenomenon in Los Angeles more specifically. This study also helps to identify directions for future research. Here, we discuss the major findings and future research directions.

First, the mapping of race-bias hate crimes confirms our anecdotal understanding that these events are not spatially random. They tend to cluster in certain geographical areas. Further research is needed to understand the social, economic, political, cultural, and demographic changes or circumstances that give rise to high concentrations of hate crime activity in a specific locale. Mapping hate crime incidents is a first step in a fuller spatial analysis of the problem. If we can identify the variables that give rise to relatively high frequencies of incidents in a particular geographic area, we should be able to identify those areas that are vulnerable to the development of such incidents in the future. Further analysis of these variables will allow us to develop predictive models and identify policy relevant variables for future prevention and intervention work.

Second, the use of geographic information systems (GIS) to identify clusters can be useful to practitioners and policymakers by pointing to neighborhoods that are experiencing a pattern of intergroup tension and hostility. As the two case studies show, clusters represent cities or neighborhoods experiencing ongoing racial tensions. Clusters indicate a certain pattern of hate crime activity in a geographic area. Repeated incidents in a bounded geographic area often indicate, or can lead to, broader intergroup conflict between racial groups. These broader social conflicts can engage constituents who themselves may not have direct experience with hate crimes but who feel victimized or threatened by the racial character of the incidents, thereby expanding the scope of conflict.

Third, field interviews and archival research showed that in the one-on-one and one-on-many clusters, there are two types of gangs involved in some or many of the incidents within those clusters. One is the white supremacist, skinhead youth gang and the other is the non-white or "minority" street gang. Further research is needed to determine exactly what percentage of incidents within each of the clusters can be attributed to members or affiliates of each type of gang. There is, for now, strong evidence to suggest that where hate crimes cluster, there is likely to be a higher frequency of crimes perpetrated by members or affiliates of organized groups or gangs compared to incidents located in low density areas. This suggests that it is useful to examine the relationship of race-bias hate crimes in metropolitan areas to what scholars have called "new social movements" usually associated with more highly organized and ideologically more sophisticated organizations.

While gang activity among supremacist skinhead groups or street gangs may be qualitatively different from these organizations, the findings of this study suggests that certain types of gangs may pose a greater threat to healthy race relations than we have previously acknowledged. This is particularly true for gang-related hate crime among minority youth, since hate crimes committed by minority street gangs have not been viewed in the same way as white gangs such as "skinhead" gangs. This raises an important issue for data collection. As discussed in the section describing the data, many law enforcement agencies have avoided classifying any gang-related crime as a hate crime. These preliminary findings call that practice into question if, in fact, there is a growing problem with hate crimes committed by minority street gang members that are not directed at victims based on the victims’ gang affiliations, but instead based solely on their racial identification.

Fourth, case study interviews and archival research indicates a fairly high degree of reluctance among local officials to acknowledge the seriousness of the problem. Of course, there are economic disincentives for publicly acknowledging such a problem. While cities are competing to attract investors to boost their local economies, publicizing hate crimes can hamper economic development plans. This can lead to greater frustration among those who feel victimized by the problem and can result in heightened antagonism and social discord. Hate crime mapping can help to promote informed discussion between sometimes antagonistic parties by creating a common empirical basis of understanding in a language that everyone can understand. Displaying hate crime information using maps can potentially help politicians, civic leaders, and concerned citizens understand the location and scope of the problem as well as its spatial and temporal characteristics.

Fifth, while law-enforcement, social service, human relations, corrections and, other agencies usually deploy personnel to the field, the location of concentrated hate crime activity is not always known to all of the people who should know. Police, for example, rotate their patrols such that officers may not work the same neighborhood long enough to identify a pattern of hate crime activity. Some agencies, such as the Human Relations Commission, rely heavily on other agencies to inform them of hate crime problem areas throughout the county. The use of maps to display information to assist in the deployment of resources may help agencies to coordinate and respond more quickly and systematically.

This general profile also reveals disturbing trends for Los Angeles County. According to the law enforcement data collected, Los Angeles County’s per capita crime rate for all bias-categories of hate crimes as well as race-bias hate crime is substantially higher than the rate for the nation overall. While the hate crime rate declined nationally during the study period, it increased in Los Angeles County. Some of this increase may be result of improvements in reporting within jurisdictions in the county and/or an underreporting among reporting agencies nationally. Given other social events that occurred during this decade, including the 1992 civil unrest, social discord surrounding the O.J. Simpson murder case, public controversy over issues such as immigration, affirmative action, language rights and multicultural education, it would not be surprising to find a greater degree of racial tensions in the Los Angeles region than in the nation overall. There are many recent works that examine the state of race relations and the problem of racial conflict in Los Angeles.51

The character and distribution of race bias hate crimes raise a number of important issues facing Los Angeles as a region. First, the data indicate a high proportion of inter-minority group hate crime compared to the nation as a whole. Nearly half (47 percent) of the reported race bias hate crimes in which the race of the victim and suspect were known were inter-minority group incidents. This compares to only seven percent in 1997 for the nation overall.52 Of particular concern is the chronically high rate at which African Americans report being victims of race-bias hate crimes by both European Americans and Latinos. While this may, in part, reflect an underreporting among Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Latinos, there is nevertheless a dramatic increase in number of African American victims relative to their proportion of the population over the four year study period. Of the cases in which both the race of the victim and race of suspect are known, African Americans are victimized almost as often if not more frequently by Latinos than by European Americans. And Latinos are victimized more often by African Americans than European Americans.53 The most dramatic increase in the number of perpetrators is among Latino perpetrators. Their increase as a proportion of all perpetrators surpassed their rate of population growth.

A second issue is the proliferation of clusters and their implications for race relations in the region. Other studies have shown that organized hate crimes tend to be more brutal and socially divisive than those perpetrated by individuals acting alone. We would add to this statement by saying that when there is a pattern of hate crimes over time in a neighborhood or place, a social dynamic is often set into motion, leading to more serious intergroup conflict or antagonisms. Repeated hate crimes in a certain geographic area can lead to social divisions that extend beyond the boundaries of the gangs or hate groups directly involved in the crimes. These social dynamics often lead to intergroup conflict along racial lines, compounding other sources of tension. This poses an additional threat to participatory democratic governance in a multicultural society.

This raises a related methodological issue: can these data be used in combination with others to "map" racial conflict? This preliminary look at race-bias clusters suggests that hate crime data, when used in conjunction with other social indicators, may be useful in the construction of such a map. But before proceeding further, it is important to make note of both the advantages of and limitations to using hate crime data as a measure for social relations more generally. Certainly these data are a critical source of information. They give a pulse on the most extreme forms of social conflict. Racial hatred or prejudice that takes the form of violence against another human being or a group of human beings is an indication of a serious social problem that calls for immediate response. The proliferation of hate crimes such as these can generate social division well beyond those individuals directly involved. Each of the clusters represents an area that has been riddled by racial antagonisms over a period of time. They likely leave scars on the social terrain that, can be rekindled during future social change. Hate crime data may be able to tell us not only where we need to intervene in social conflict, but also where we need to work toward healing, reconciliation, and community strengthening.

Is important when analyzing hate crime data, not to fall victim to the ecological fallacy. It would be erroneous to think that all individuals who live or work in cluster areas exhibit the same characteristics as those involved in hate crimes. Likewise, it would be wrong to conclude that all those who live and work in those areas share the same racial biases as those who commit hate crimes. In fact, we may often find residents in affected areas who actively promote tolerance and cross cultural understanding because they have witnessed hate crimes in their community.

It would also be erroneous to use hate crime data as the only source of information to understand race relations or racial conflict. A study of hate crime clusters does not capture non-criminal acts or flag conflicts dispersed over large areas. Well-publicized conflict between Korean merchants and African American residents in South Central Los Angeles do not always involve criminal threats or criminal acts. Nor would these and other types of conflict appear clustered in a geographic area. Using the previous example, if conflicts do involve criminal threats or acts they would most likely be dispersed across a wide geographic area overlapping the spatial location of convenience stores. It is also important to note that hate crime perpetrators vary in their degree of racial prejudice. Jacobs and Potter (1998), for example, argue that not all hate crimes labeled as such accurately represent the extent of the offender’s prejudice. Hate crime data can overstate the extent of the hate crime problem depending on the degree to which prejudice is the primary motive for the crime. And lastly, any study of race relations would need to examine cooperation and conflict, as they often coexist in tension with one another.

Directions for Future Research

Hate crime data provide an important and unique opportunity to further our understanding of social conflict and racial antagonisms. Applied research strives to gather and process relevant information, identify and analyze the problem, and design effective solutions to those problems. Further research in the following areas can help us develop more effective solutions.

Improve and expand data collection. Hate crime data collection can be improved and expanded. Researchers can collaborate with data collection agencies to standardize reporting practices and improve training of personnel so that data collection is more consistent and accurate. The timeliness of data also affects the time it may take to deploy resources in response to the outbreak of clusters. Agencies can explore ways of making data available so that they may respond more quickly. Furthermore, not all cities are able or willing to collect and report hate crimes. Further outreach and education to reach collaborative agreements with non-reporting jurisdictions could lead to more complete data.

Quantitative time series analysis. Statistical analyses of time series data can be conducted to identify demographic and socioeconomic variables that explain the clustering of hate crimes. Quantitative and qualitative studies can be designed to test various hypotheses regarding the causes of racial and ethnic conflict. Theories of racial conflict suggest a number of contributing factors, such as resource and market competition, rapid demographic change, the congruence of class conflict with racial and ethnic boundaries, cultural and language differences, and exclusive racial politics, among others. There are also psychological theories that focus on the individual characteristics and motives of hate crime perpetrators. The availability of decennial census data in the year 2000 will add to the precision of time series analyses.

Qualitative case studies. Case studies using qualitative methods of data collection and analysis should be conducted alongside quantitative methods. Case studies of various clusters can be extremely useful in examining additional variables and understanding social dynamics in cluster areas. Case studies can also identify mediating institutions that affect hate crime perpetrators and victims as well as race relations surrounding specific series of incidents. The identification of mediating institutions can point us toward effective prevention and intervention strategies.

Forecasting and modeling. Based on both quantitative and qualitative analyses, a model can be developed to identify potential hot spots before they reach a critical point. This would be useful in a number of ways. Cities would be able to take steps to prevent hate crimes in vulnerable areas. Information could be used to mobilize agencies, residents, and business owners to work collaboratively to improve race relations and increase tolerance. Systems and structures could be put into place to proactively address this problem. Policies could be critiqued and institutions examined so that the problem might be better managed.

Developing a human relations infrastructure. There are three distinct types of activities that can occur within an infrastructure designed to improve human relations and address the problem of social conflict. They are: peace making, peace keeping, and peace building. We often speak of physical infrastructures--roads, buildings, sewer lines, telecommunications networks--that keep a city functioning smoothly. We rarely think about social infrastructures that can facilitate social interaction in diverse cities so that people of different backgrounds and experiences can work together for their collective betterment. We need a human relations infrastructure that can strengthen civil society in a multicultural metropolis. Research can help in a broader collective process to build such an infrastructure.


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Acknowledgements

*The research conducted for this article was funded by a seed money grant from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. The authors would also like to thank the reviewers for their constructive comments.


Endnotes

1. For a case study of how hate crimes committed in the course of a gang war created social divisions along racial boundaries in an affected neighborhood see Umemoto (1998).

2. Hate crime statutes are contained in the California Penal Code, Sections 302, 422.6, 422.72, 594.3, 1170.75, 11411, 11412. California Penal Code Section 422.6 was amended in 1991 to include disability and gender in its definition of victim groups and was amended in 1994 to include as victims not only persons of the protected classes, but also those who are perceived to be part of the protected classes.

3. Unlike the California state statute, gender is not included. Guidelines for data collection can be found in Federal Bureau of Investigation, Hate Crime Data Collection Guidelines. See also Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reports for the United States 1997 which are available at http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/97cius.htm.

4. Hate crimes are defined by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office as "criminal acts in which the facts indicate that bias, hatred, or prejudice based on the victims' actual or perceived race, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender, or sexual orientation are substantial factors in the commission of the offense." A more complete definition is included in Appendix A.

5. Only the main lower section of the county is shown on these maps for purposes of readability.

6. Her suggestion was based on research showing that when a non-Black witnesses an African American exhibiting ambiguous behavior, the observer is more likely to label that behavior as hostile relative to Whites exhibiting the same ambiguous behavior (Bodenhausen and Weyer 1985; Duncan 1976; Sagar and Schofield 1980).

7. ArcView is a product of Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc., located in Redlands, CA. Demographic and geographic feature files were downloaded from the website of the Center for Spatial Analysis and Remote Sensing, Department of Geography and Urban Analysis, California State University, Los Angeles. The data from which these files were created include STF3A 1990 U.S. Census data and Los Angeles park information.

8. We encountered several errors or cases of incomplete street map information on the GDT street files we used. For example, one street segment in Hollywood was incorrectly labeled "Hudson Ave." rather than "Schrader Blvd." ArcView also had trouble finding certain streets in the GDT database even though they existed in the shapefile and the spelling sensitivity was severely lowered. These included several major thoroughfares such as Del Amo Blvd., Kanan Dume, Del Mar, and the 3rd St. Promenade. Most of these were manually geocoded by finding the coordinates for the correct location and inputting them into the database.

9. It is not advisable to use isopleth maps alone to define clusters due to the fact that the centroid of the clusters as indicated on the isopleth maps do not always concur with the location of the highest concentration of points in that area. For example, the isopleth map in Figure 9 indicated a high concentration in the Hawthorne area in the southwest quadrant of the map. When we overlayed the dot density map over the isopleth map, we saw that the centroid was located in an area with very few events. There were numerous events, however, in the ring surrounding the centroid. The algorithm used to draw the isopleth lines placed the centroid in an area with a low density of hate crimes, creating a misleading raster image for that area.

10. The Hawaiian Gardens Police Department was in operation between 1995-1997 and was allegedly dissolved due to the lack of funds. Prior to their establishment and after their dissolution, the city was policed through a contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

11. This rate was calculated using information in "Table 12: Agency Hate Crime Reporting by State" in US Federal Bureau of Investigation, Hate Crime Statistics 1997. This table lists figures for the population covered by the reporting agencies and the number of incidents for each state.

12. National statistics are found in annual reports released by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, Hate Crime Statistics 1995, 1996, 1997 http://www.fbi.gov/ucr.htm). County data include reports from the Los Angeles Police and Sheriff's Departments. Population counts for the nation and county include only those jurisdictions for which hate crime data are officially reported.

13. Detailed data are not available to make a comparison between LA county and the "rest of the nation" so the comparison is made with the US (which includes LA County). The discrepancy between Los Angeles and the rest of the nation would even be greater.

14. Crime rate per million persons is calculated by dividing the number of hate crimes by the populations served by those reporting agencies multiplied times one million. Both national and LA figures include only those incidents tallied by law enforcement agencies.

15. In 1994, 73 percent of all hate crimes were racially motivated. In 1995, it was 73 percent, in 1996, 70 percent, and in 1997, 71 percent.

16. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports for the United States in 1997, the distribution of bias-motivated offenses for the nation looks like this: race and ethnicity 70.79 percent, religion 15.04 percent, sexual orientation 13.94 percent, and other biases 0.22 percent (from Chart 2.18, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/97cius.htm).

17. One hotspot appears in Hawthorne, but does not appear in dot density maps.

18 For example, there is a high concentration of race-bias hate crimes in the Hollywood area. Using the typology, however, we are able to disaggregate the cluster into two distinct cluster types: many-on-many and one-on-many. The one-on-many cluster involves white skinheads victimizing Asian Americans, African Americans, and Latinos mainly along and north of Hollywood Boulevard. Directly below Hollywood Boulevard, the racial characteristics of victims and perpetrators are of the many-on-many type. This distinction is made possible by looking at both victim and perpetrators characteristics and would not have appeared as two distinct phenomena if examined using only the race of victim or race of perpetrator to map and classify clusters.

19. Some of these clusters were previously identified by the LA County Commission on Human Relations in their 1996 and 1997 annual reports on hate crimes. They noted that all hate crimes (race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, and gender biased) appear to cluster in east county, Harbor Gateway, Hollywood/West Hollywood/Silverlake, Lancaster/Palmdale, and Van Nuys, with new clusters forming in Hawaiian Gardens and Long Beach (LA Commission on Human Relations, 1998).

20. Shapes for Native American perpetrators and "other race" are not assigned for the close up maps since there are none in the selected clusters.

21. According to an interview with an LAPD officer at the Hollywood Division, groups of skinheads were known to rove Hollywood Boulevard and harass or victimize people of color during that period of time.

22. The clusters generally fit the definitions given, though none adhere to them strictly in that there are incidents in most of the clusters that do not fit the defined pattern. We did not use a strict threshold to determine the cluster type. Instead, we combined numerical counts and ratios with archival and interview data to categorize the clusters.

23. The number of perpetrators is often less than the number of victims for each cluster since the race of the perpetrator was unknown in some of the cases.

24. The similarities between these cases did not all hold true for the Watts cluster, where the perpetrators are predominately African American and the victims are Latino. Unlike the four aforementioned cases, a number of the incidents in the Watts cluster involved multiple motives in addition to racial bias, such as robbery and burglary. While there is a prior history of racial antagonism between African Americans and Latinos in the public housing facilities in Watts, the demographic balance was more evenly weighed in contrast to Hawaiian Gardens, Harbor Gateway, Azusa and Normandale Park, where Latinos comprised a far greater majority. Based on police reports and interviews, there is evidence of resentment among African American suspects who did not want to see "Mexicans" living in the projects. However, it did not appear that a large proportion of incidents in the Watts cluster were linked to one another through the identification of suspects to one particular group or gang. Police reports do identify several suspects as members of a gang based in the Nickerson Gardens housing project.

25. The following gangs were named as part of suspect descriptions or incident descriptions in police reports for each of the one-on-one clusters: 204th Street (Harbor Gateway), Azusa-13 (Azusa), Hawaiian Gardens Barrio (Hawaiian Gardens), East Side Torrance and High Life Crips (Normandale Park), and Grape Street (Watts).

26. This LAPD crime report (DR#950506258) described an incident that took place on 2 February 1995. In another report on an incident that took place on 25 October 1996 in the East County cluster, police noted that "the local gang will attack any Black person that comes into the city."

27. US Bureau of the Census, Census of the Population, Income and Poverty Status in 1989: 1990. Available: http://factfinder.census.gov/.

28. The official count in 1989 was 13,639 persons according to the 1990 US Bureau of the Census, Census of the Population, 1990. The official estimate for 1997 was 14,641 persons according to the State of California, Department of Finance, City/County Population and Housing Estimates, Sacramento, California, May 1998.

29. According to the US Bureau of the Census, Census of the Population, General Population and Housing Characteristics: 1990 [http://factfinder.census.gov/], the racial composition of the city of Hawaiian Gardens is as follows:

White

8,379

Black

620

American Indiann, Eskimo, or Aleut

121

Asian or Pacific Islander

1,285

Other race

3,234

Hispannic origin (of any race)

9,078

Total Population

13,639

30. Interviews with Bordon Olive, Consultant, Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission, Los Angeles, CA, July 1999.

31. "Hawaiian Gardens: Reported Hate Crimes and Selected Hate Incidents." Unpublished report, 1 November 1997. Compiled by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations and the Hawaiian Gardens Police Department.

32. Russell, Ron, and Victor Mejia, "City of Fear," New Times 3.7 (12-18 February 1998) Law enforcement sources include Los Angeles and Azusa police incident reports.

33. "Hawaiian Gardens: Reported Hate Crimes and Selected Hate Incidents." Unpublished report, 1 November 1997. Compiled by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations and the Hawaiian Gardens Police Department.

34. Quoted in Russell, Ron, and Victor Mejia.

35. Ibid.

36. Ibid.

37. Ibid.

38. Ibid.

39. Ibid.

40. Based on discussions with Ron Wakabayashi, Robin Toma and Bordon Olive at the LACCHR during June and July 1999, the phenomena of gang-related hate crimes is a growing problem. Staff members were called to assist in other "cluster" areas of this type (one-on-one involving Latino and African American victims and perpetrators) and found a similar pattern in which gang members of one racial group victimized individuals based on racial identification over any gang identification.

41. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Census of Population and Housing, 1980, 1990.

42. Nazario, Sonia, "Driven To Extremes: Hard Days and Nights in the Antelope Valley's New Suburbs," 24 June 1996, page A-1. This second of a two-part feature describes the worsening social conditions facing residents of the Antelope Valley. For example, although the number of people on public assistance in Los Angeles County declined from 1994 to 1996, the number in the county's Lancaster office, which serves almost all of the Antelope Valley, rose from 45,681 to 49,289, as referenced to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services. The overall crime rate in Palmdale increased, particularly in the areas of larceny and assault. Major crimes were up 25 percent between the 1989-90 fiscal year and the 1994-95 fiscal year as referenced to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

43. Errol A. Cockfield Jr., "Reputed Supremacists to Be Tried in Alleged Hate Crime," Los Angeles Times, 29 April 1995, B-22.

44. "3 Plead Guilty in Racial Shooting," Los Angeles Times, 30 March 1996, B-4.

45 Errol A. Cockfield Jr., "Skinheads to Face Trial in Drive-by Attack on Blacks," Los Angeles Times, 29 April 1995, B-1.

46. Errol A. Cockfield Jr., "Skinheads to Face Trial in Drive-by Attack on Blacks," Los Angeles Times, 29 April 1995, page B-1.

47. Errol A. Cockfield Jr., "3rd Suspect Arrested in Race-Related Shooting," Los Angeles Times, 7 March 1995, B-1.

48. John M. Gonzales, "Two Arrested in Assault Deputies Call Hate Crime," Los Angeles Times, 11 July 1996, B-1.

49. This account is based on two sources: 1) Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, Hate crime incidents, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, Digital database. (Data for Antelope Valley collected from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department); 2) Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, "Hate Crime in Los Angeles County in 1996: A Report to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors," Los Angeles, CA: LACCHR.

50. Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, Hate crime incidents, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, Digital database. Data for Antelope Valley collected from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

51. Three types of studies on race relations in Los Angeles have been published over the past decade. Large scale surveys of racial attitudes and relations have been conducted by scholars, notably Lawrence Bobo (1997, 1996a, 1996b) and Melvin Oliver (1995, 1984). There are also case studies examining race relations in different parts of the city. Kyeyoung Park (1996) and Regina Freer (1994), for example, conducted case studies of relations between Korean merchants and African American residents in South Central while Leland Saito (1998) and John Horton (1995) explored relations between Chinese, Caucasians, and Latinos in Monterey Park. A third type of study focuses on specific dimensions of race relations including the role of immigration, economic competition, inequality, labor market conditions, coalition politics, media representation, identity and legal jurisprudence (Baldesarre 1994; Chang and Leong 1994; Dear, Schockman, and Hise 1996; Gooding-Williams 1993; Johnson, Farrell, and Guinn 1997; Johnson and Oliver 1989; Waldinger and Bozorgmehr 1996). These studies of race relations in Los Angeles add valuable insight into the nature of contemporary race relations and the sources of racial and ethnic urban conflict.

52. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Hate Crime Statistics, available at http://www.fbi.gov/ucr. In 1997, there was a total of 5,898 race-bias offenses (out of 9,861 total bias-motivated offenses). The racial background of the suspect was known in 3,982 of those cases. White suspects comprised 73 percent of the total number of race bias hate crimes suspects in which the racial background was known. Of the race bias incidents in which the race of both the victim and suspects were known, 59 percent involved White perpetrators and Black victims. Interminority group offenses, that is, offenses in which both the victim and perpetrator were non-white, totaled 271 (6.8 percent) of the 3,982 cases in which both the suspected offender's race and victim's race were known.

53. Of the mapped cases in which the race of both the victim and perpetrator were known (1,166 out of 1,837), African Americans were victimized by Latinos in 349 incidents (out of 669 in which African Americans were victims) and were victimized by European Americans in 306. Latinos were victimized by African Americans in 133 of the 228 incidents in which they were victims and by Europeans in 90 of the 228 incidents. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders were victimized equally by Latinos and European Americans (35 out of 82 incidents). The phrase "almost as often if not more often" is used here because these numbers may underestimate the proportion of incidents involving European American perpetrators, since many of the cases of supremacist-related vandalism (painting swastikas on the wall) did not include suspect information.


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References

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Bobo, Lawrence. 1997. "Introduction: Race, Public Opinion, and the Social Sphere." Public Opinion Quarterly 61:1.

Bobo, Lawrence and Vincent L. Hutchings. 1996a. "Perceptions of Racial Group Competition: Extending Blumer's Theory of Group Position to a Multiracial Social Context." American Sociological Review 61:951.

Bobo, Lawrence and Camille L. Zubrinsky. 1996b. "Attitudes on Residential Integration: Perceived Status Differences, Mere In-Group Preference, or Racial Prejudice?" Social Forces 4:883.

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Chang, Edward Tea. 1993. "From Chicago to Los Angeles: Changing the Site of Race Relations." Amerasia Journal. 19:2.

Chang, Edward Tea and Russell C. Leong, eds. 1994. Los Angeles-- Struggles Toward Multiethnic Community: Asian American, African American & Latino Perspectives. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Dear, Michael J., H. Eric Schockman and Greg Hise, eds. 1996. Rethinking Los Angeles. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

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Herek, Gregory M. and Kevin T. Berrill. 1992. Hate Crimes: Confronting Violence Against Lesbians and Gay Men. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

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APPENDICES

Appendix A

Hate Crime Definition and Guidelines
Los Angeles County District Attorney

 

Definition:

When the facts indicate bias, hatred or prejudice based on the victim's race, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender or sexual orientation to be a substantial factor in the commission of the offense, the case will be classified as a hate crime. Evidence of such bias, hatred or prejudice can be direct or circumstantial. It can occur before, during or after the commission of the offense, but must be a substantial part of the motive to commit the crime, and not merely an afterthought. When the evidence of bias is based on speech alone, the speech must have threatened violence against a specific person or group of persons and it must be clear that the defendant had the apparent ability to carry out that threat.

A hate crime can be charged even where it is clear that the defendant intended to commit other crimes. When multiple criminal motives exists, i.e., the intent to commit a robbery and a hate crime, the defendant may be charged with both offenses provided the prohibited bias was a substantial factor in the commission of the hate crime.

Guidelines:


Appendix B

Cities Reporting Hate Crimes to the

Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission and

Number of Years Reporting, 1994-1997

 


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