MONTEREY, Calif., (KION-TV) – Hate crimes are on the rise in California, and Monterey County was no exception, as cases of discrimination and hatred toward racial minorities and religious groups have been reported in recent years.
As part of our Special Report edition, the most recent Hate Crime Report 2022 was analyzed to understand current issues in the community. This report examines California's hate crime overall, yet there are incidents in Monterey County that add up to these statistics.
This data that comes from the latest report by the California Department of Justice for the year 2021 – 2022, registered an overall increase of 20% in cases of hate crimes against minorities.
A hate crime is identified as a criminal act based on discrimination against a nationality, religion, disability, or gender. This report indicates that attacks are primarily targeted to:
- African-Americans (Increased by 27%)
- Hispanic/Latino (Increased by 13%)
- Asians, (Decreased after the pandemic by 43%)
- Religious groups (Increased by 24%)
- LBGBT+ community (Increased by 29%)
The California District Attorney's Office noted a decrease in cases of discrimination against the Asian community. However, hate messages toward racial minorities and religious groups increased in 2022.
In Monterey County, at least four hate crime-related incidents were recorded in the past two years, according to Lt. Jake Pinkas of the Monterey Police Department.
In December of last year, a mural was vandalized on a busy Monterey street. The attack explicitly made hateful references to minority and Jewish religious groups.
The Anti-Defamation League report placed California as the state with the second-highest number of cases of hatred towards the Jewish community in the last year, with a 30% increase.
Joseph Chudy, president of Temple Beth El congregation in Salinas, said that locally he has not seen many cases attacking his community directly, but nationally he has seen a large increase in discrimination and hatred towards Jews.
"It has to do with what happened in World War II, where a group of people feel they are being replaced by others, this is what happened in Germany,” added Chudy. “But the Jews were a small population and the Germans focused their hatred on the Jews, and it's happening again in the United States.
We spoke with people in Monterey County who recounted their experiences. One such member was County Islamic Association Councilman Samy Meri, who said the following in a statement:
“We once received a threat from a supremacist group, but that's all it was, now the state of California gives us grant money to temples, churches, and religious prayer centers to protect the facilities with cameras and fences.”Islamic Association of the Monterey County
Some members of the community still remember events from their past that haunt them for life. The Salinas Jewish congregation, for example, honored spokesman Harold Gordon, a Holocaust survivor. Gordon passed away on Aug. 12, leaving teachings of peace and resilience for his community.
"This continues to grow in the last 10 years, since the Holocaust...and that is that 60% of the religious harassment is toward us Jews, who are only 2% of the population in the country," said Chudy.
According to California law, a hate crime is punishable by jail time, as it is considered a felony, and it fosters fear, insecurity, and sometimes even death in its victims.
This article is also available in Spanish at Telemundo Costa Central.