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Hate Incidents

Man Charged With Hate Crime for Defacing Synagogue and Threats

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WEST LOS ANGELES — A man has been charged with defacing a synagogue and threatening to injure or kill another man, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Cameron Brunson Blake, allegedly associated with a Neo-Nazi group, was charged with one count each of vandalism of a religious property, a hate crime, and criminal threats. The case was filed for warrant on August 27.

The defendant is expected to be arraigned today in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Airport Branch.

Deputy District Attorneys Richard Ceballos and Paul Kim of the Organized Crime Division are prosecuting the case.

On August 10, Blake was accused of carving an anti-Semitic slur into a door at a synagogue. Two days later, he allegedly hurled an epithet at a man and his infant daughter in Palisades Park and threatened to injure or kill the man.

Prosecutors are recommending bail be set at $1 million. If convicted as charged, the defendant faces a possible maximum sentence of six years and eight months in state prison.

The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department.

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Hate Incidents

What I Learned From a Year of Covering So Many Hate Crimes in LA

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by Joshua Chang for Crosstown LA

LOS ANGELES — There were 320* hate crimes committed in the City of Los Angeles last year. I covered every one of them.

This was part of an experiment we conducted at Crosstown: If we automatically scanned police records for every hate crime, would a pattern emerge?

Would this tell us something about our city we hadn’t known? Our goal, as outlined by Editor-in-Chief Gabriel Kahn, was not to sensationalize each instance, but to measure the cadence of intolerance.

Crosstown is an experiment in how data can be harnessed to reinvigorate local journalism. So we leaned on our in-house data scientists to build a Slackbot that would ping us every time the Los Angeles Police Department registered a new hate crime.

Though I wrote up a synopsis of each hate crime, there is still so much I do not know. We are limited by the data LAPD provides to the public. We do our best to decipher their numeric codes into a narrative. For example, a police record that contains “0903” is a hate crime. One that also has “0906” means that it is gang-related. If it also has “0421,” then the underlying crime committed was a death threat.

Here is what one of our hate crime “cards” looks like: 

Sometimes, these codes expose chilling details, as on Oct. 16, when multiple suspects overwhelmed a 60-year-old transient black male in Echo Park, threatened him, bit him and hurled racial slurs. Or in Rancho Park, when, on Sept. 13, a suspect threatened four black students with a knife while shouting bigoted profanities. 

The data can also bring quantifiable precision to a creeping climate of racism and bigotry. The 320 reported hate crimes of 2019 represent an 8.5% increase from a year earlier. Reports of hate crimes have been rising steadily since 2014, when there were 170. Out of 14 anti-transgender hate crimes last year, 11 of them targeted transgender women of color.

But more often, we are left with frustrating gaps about these incidents. The LAPD’s data can be spotty. Sometimes the details are so spare that it isn’t at all clear why the incident was classified as a hate crime in the first place. Occasionally, reports that were initially classified as hate crimes are reclassified as run-of-the-mill assaults or robberies. And vice versa. We never learn the motivation of the suspect or the fate of the victim.

I have not seen the faces of the victims, nor have I talked to them, at least in person. The data provides no details about their identity. Our requests for full police transcripts of incidents usually run into a brick wall; the department refuses to release them because, as is typical of hate crimes, they remain under investigation.

And, of course, we only know of the hate crimes that are reported to the police. Many others never make it into the public record.

As of this moment, the LAPD’s crime code manual does not have codes that identify the suspects’ potential beliefs or their affiliated hate groups – like the Atomwaffen Division, the Proud Boys and the Rise Above Movement, all violent white-supremacist groups active in Southern California.

Hate crimes involving white supremacist groups encompassed 16% of all hate crimes that were recorded in Los Angeles County in 2018, according to the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations. Gang-related hate crimes made up 9%. 

Still, LAPD is among the best in the nation when it comes to keeping track of this data. “We should recognize not many cities have a hate crime-specific division in their police departments,” says Prof. Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at the California State University, San Bernardino

Last year, LAPD’s chief hate-crimes coordinator, Det. Orlando Martinez, instituted a new policy that uses 35 different codes to identify the bias motivations of the suspect and six different codes to identify if the victim was targeted for sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion and race. For example, “1536” refers to anti-gay bias, which was recorded 48 times last year.

Obtaining more details on hate crimes can also walk a fine line between thorough reporting and exploiting personal information. Marshall Wong of the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations warned me that by disclosing the specifics, I could be neglecting victims’ wishes to move on from traumatic experiences or reveal sexual orientation without their consent.

As important as it is to keep an impartial barometer on the development of hate in the city, I often felt like I am merely tracing the expanding aftermath of a growing social illness.

At the close of the year, there are more things I do not know about these crimes than things I do know. Crosstown has always been about reimagining local journalism to better fit the needs of its community and knowing what we do well and not well is where it all begins. In 2020, we will be rolling out an entirely new approach to reporting hate crimes, one which can give our readers a more refined and up-to-date picture about what is happening in our city. Stay tuned.

Crosstown covers the neighborhoods of Los Angeles in a different way — through data — to help people make their neighborhoods and the city safer, healthier, and more connected.



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Hate Incidents

WANTED: Suspect Seen Vandalizing WeHo Business in Apparent Hate Incident

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WEST HOLLYWOOD — Detectives from the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station are advising of a vandalism that occurred in the 8800 block of Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, between the hours of 2:00 AM and 8:00 AM on December 31, 2019. 

The graffiti that appeared to be anti-Semitic, was located on the front of the business window and clearly visible from Santa Monica Boulevard and is currently being investigated as a possible hate crime.

A similar incident may have also occurred in the 8900 block of Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, on December 29, 2019 and is also being investigated.

A nearby business provided surveillance video to the victim of a male, white, adult who is a suspect in the occurrence at 8800 Santa Monica Boulevard.

The investigation into the incident is ongoing and will be handled by the West Hollywood Station Sheriff’s Station Detectives. Anyone who has information on these incidents, or recognizes the suspect, please call West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station at (310) 855-8850.

LA Crime Stoppers: Partner to prevent or report crime by contacting your local Sheriff’s station. If you wish to remain anonymous, call “LA Crime Stoppers” by dialing 800-222-TIPS (8477), using your smartphone by downloading the “P3 MOBILE APP” on Google play or the App Store, or using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org

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Hate Incidents

Pennsylvania Man Charged with Vandalism of Beverly Hills Synagogue

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Nessah Synagogue

BEVERLY HILLS — A 24-year-old Pennsylvania man has been charged with vandalizing the Nessah Synagogue in Beverly Hills earlier this month, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and the Beverly Hills Police Department announced today.

Anton Nathaniel Redding appeared today in Los Angeles Superior Court, Airport Branch. Beverly Hills Police Department personnel attended the defendant’s arraignment hearing where he pleaded not guilty to the listed charges.

Redding is scheduled to return on January 30, 2019 in Department W31 at the Airport Branch.

If convicted as charged, the defendant faces a possible maximum sentence of six years in state prison. The defendant’s bail is set at $250,000 and he remains in custody. 

Redding, 24, of Millersville, Pennsylvania was arrested last week in Hawaii and charged with Vandalism of a Religious Property and Commercial Burglary (594.3(a) and 459 of the California Penal Code). The criminal complaint also includes a penalty enhancement for a Hate Crime under 422.75(a) of the California Penal Code. 

“I said we would catch this guy and we did,” said Mayor John Mirisch.  “The criminal who we believe desecrated a holy place on Shabbat is now in custody thanks to the superb work of the Beverly Hills Police Department.  The Beverly Hills community is strong and will not be intimidated by despicable acts.  Our thoughts remain with the Nessah community as they work to move forward from this terrible crime.”   

“I am so pleased that the collective efforts and relentless police work on this case has resulted in the apprehension of the suspect and a criminal filing,” said Beverly Hills Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli. “I’d like to thank our staff, partner law enforcement agencies, and community organizations for their expeditious work and support during this difficult time.”

Through investigation, Beverly Hills Police learned the suspect forced entry into the Nessah Synagogue and heavily ransacked the interior. The suspect overturned furniture and damaged several Jewish relics, including Torahs, scrolls, and prayer books. Additionally, the suspect took possession of the synagogue’s printed materials and scattered them throughout the interior. The disruption was primarily to the Synagogue’s interior contents, and there is limited structural damage. 

“We are committed to the safety and security of our religious institutions,” said Chief Spagnoli. “The Beverly Hills Police Department stands with our community in solidarity, to protect and serve, and commit to keeping Beverly Hills a safe place to live, work, and worship. 

BHPD partnered with several law enforcement agencies to find and arrest the suspect. In particular, BHPD thanked the Los Angeles Police Department, the United States Secret Service, the Joint Regional Intelligence Center, the Hawaii Police Department and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.  Community organization including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Nessah Synagogue family, and other community members offered “great assistance and support during this investigation and most difficult time for the City and the Nessah community.”

The Beverly Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office continue to work together in order to obtain a successful resolution. 

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