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Analysis: The attacks came merely based on a perceived characteristic: gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or nationality. And in 2009, the state counted 1,321 victims.
Each of them, law enforcement authorities reported, had been victims of hate crimes and nearly one in four were targeted because of their sexual orientation.
At Monday’s community meeting in Hillcrest, Garcia accurately cited the statistic. The meeting came in the wake of two incidents around Halloween last year that some residents felt involved bias against the victims’ sexual orientation. To their frustration, the district attorney declined to file hate crime charges in either case.
Garcia, who leads the office’s hate crime unit, declined to outline why hate crime charges weren’t filed since the office is still investigating the incidents. But he said the motive behind a crime is crucial to the special designation.
If, for example, two men engage in a bar fight and one uses anti-gay language, that doesn’t itself constitute a hate crime. The men could have been fighting over a sports rivalry or some other dispute.
“Unless you know all the facts, it’s really hard to make a decision on all these cases,” Garcia said.
To address concerns that hate crime was on the rise in Hillcrest, City Councilman Todd Gloria asked law enforcement officials to hold the meeting. Contrary to concerns, however, authorities have reported a slight decline in hate crimes, mirroring the drop in overall violent crime. San Diego County authorities reported 132 offenses in 2009, 35 less than 2007.
Since Garcia’s statistic accurately reflects the state report, we’ve called his statement True.
A hat tip goes to the Union-Tribune for reporting the statement in this story about the community meeting.