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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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Celebrity News

‘Bachelor’ Contestant Apologizes for White Lives Matter Shoot

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(TMZ) — ‘Bachelor’ contestant Victoria F is finally addressing a controversy that’s been dogging her for a minute now — issuing a mea culpa for being part of a ‘White Lives Matter’ campaign.

The model — who’s currently still in the running for Peter Weber ‘s final rose — took to social media Saturday with a Notes-written apology for her eyebrow-raising shoot, which she posted on her Instagram story.

It says, “I would like to sincerely apologize for my involvement with We Love Marlins. My intention was only to support an endangered species.” She continues in her post, “I want to say that I unequivocally reject the beliefs of the white lives matter movement or any propaganda that supports racism of any kind.

It says, “I would like to sincerely apologize for my involvement with We Love Marlins. My intention was only to support an endangered species.”

She continues in her post, “I want to say that I unequivocally reject the beliefs of the white lives matter movement or any propaganda that supports racism of any kind. I would like to specifically apologize to people of color that are affected by racism daily.”

MarlinLivesMatter.com

VF finished by saying, “It was never my intention to add fuel to the racial fire in this country. This has truly been an educational moment for me and I hope to be a voice against racism moving forward. I hope I can be shown grace as I navigate through this process.”

The timing of her apology is interesting … as we reported and as ‘Bachelor’ nation now knows, Victoria is in the final four group of girls who are taking Pete to their hometown.

We knew about the ‘WLM’ campaign — which was meant to be a ‘BLM’ pun to raise awareness about over-fishing white Marlin — but it went unaddressed as the show continued. About a week ago, however, Cosmo scrapped Victoria from their digital cover because of it.

No word if she ends up going the distance with Pete — rumor has it he doesn’t choose any of the remaining girls — but it seems her post-‘Bachelor’ life demanded she speak on this.

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)

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Celebrity News

Jussie Smollett Facing 6 New Counts for Allegedly Faking Attack

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CHICAGO (TMZ) — Jussie Smollett is facing felony charges in Chicago again — the special prosecutor just announced an indictment against the actor for the alleged homophobic attack against him last year.

A grand jury handed up the new indictment against Jussie. Dan Webb was appointed special prosecutor for the case last summer. We’re told he’s now facing 6 felony counts for lying to law enforcement. The indictment calls the 6 charges “disorderly conduct,” but all 6 involve allegations of lying to cops.

This effectively re-opens the controversial case that led to Smollett getting fired from “Empire.”

Special Prosecutor Webb says Jussie “planned and participated in a staged hate crime attack, and thereafter made numerous false statements to Chicago Police Dept. officers.”

Webb adds the new charges — pared down from 16 to 6 — were re-filed “in the interest of justice.” Webb was critical of the State’s Attorney who dismissed the case, saying Kim Foxx’s office had no additional evidence from what the Grand Jury had when they indicted Smollett in the first place, so the dismissal made no sense.

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Jussie and his attorneys had staged a legal battle against the special prosecutor, saying it would expose him to double jeopardy. That effort was shot down in court. You’ll recall Cook County prosecutors dropped all 16 felony counts against Smollett in March 2019 … calling it a “just disposition and appropriate resolution,” but not an exoneration.

That decision pissed off Chicago law enforcement — and in August, Webb was appointed special prosecutor to investigate how the case was handled, and if there was any reason to renew charges.

A source connected to Jussie tells us, “The officers who re-investigated the case are the same ones who originally investigated it. These officers are currently being sued by Smollett. They have also spent taxpayer money on having these officers go to Los Angeles and harass members of Smollett’s team and friends.”

We’re told Jussie still maintains his innocence, and finds the timing of the indictment interesting — because Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx is up for re-election next month. He plans to plead not guilty.

Jussie will be arraigned February 24. We’re told he faces up to 3 years in state prison if convicted.

You’ll recall, Jussie claimed he was attacked on a frigid night in Chicago by 2 white men who put a rope around his neck and doused him with bleach while yelling racial and homophobic slurs.

However, 2 black men — brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo — were eventually detained, and told police Jussie paid them to stage the whole attack.

After the new indictment, the Osundairos’ attorney, Gloria Schmidt, says they remain “fully committed to the public knowing the truth” about the so-called attack — and will cooperate with the investigation. However, they did not testify before the new grand jury. Instead, the panel relied on the brothers’ previous testimony.

Jussie’s attorney, Tina Glandian, is also questioning the timing of the indictment, saying, “the attempt to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State’s Attorney election is clearly all about politics not justice.”

She also says …  “After more than five months of investigation, the Office of the Special Prosecutor has not found any evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever related to the dismissal of the charges against Mr. Smollett. Rather, the charges were appropriately dismissed the first time because they were not supported by the evidence.”

Foxx’s campaign is calling out the timing of the special prosecutor’s announcement saying, “What’s questionable here is the James Comey-like timing of that charging decision, just 35 days before an election, which can only be interpreted as the further politicization of the judicial system, something voters in the era of Donald Trump should consider offensive.”

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)

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Hate Incidents

Nevada Man Guilty in Plot to Shoot up Las Vegas LGBTQ Bar

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prosecution

LAS VEGAS (Los Angeles Blade) — Conor Climo pleaded guilty to planning to bomb a synagogue and a gay bar among other targets. A Nevada man pleaded guilty Monday in Las Vegas to a series of charges, including planning to shoot customers at an LGBTQ bar, the AP reported.

Conor Climo, 24, a self-described white supremacist, pleaded guilty to planning to bomb a synagogue or Anti-Defamation League office and to shoot up a gay bar and a fast-food restaurant.
He apparently shared his plans with an FBI informant during an encrypted online chat.

He also shared that he is a member of the Feuerkrieg Division, an offshoot of the Atomwaffen Division neo-Nazi group.

Climo pleaded guilty to felony possession of an unregistered firearm, the AP reported. He faces two to three years in prison at his sentencing […]

Continue reading at losangelesblade.com

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