SAN MARCOS, Calif. (KGTV) - Close to 100 North County community members Wednesday took part in an open conversation about hate crimes and how to come together to end the trend.
The forum was held at the McMahon Center on the Cal State University San Marcos campus, and the North County venue was chosen because of attacks on worship centers in the region earlier in the year.
The fire set at an Escondido mosque and the deadly shooting at the Chabad of Poway were topics of discussion, as was the mass shooting in El Paso, which authorities said targeted Hispanics.
San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said it highlights a disturbing trend in California. In 2018, hate crimes dropped in all categories, but it increased about 18 percent against Hispanics and Latinos.
State and federal prosecutors talked about the importance of identifying and reporting suspicious activity to prevent tragedies, stressing that hate speech is often a precursor to hate crimes.
They also talked about ways to report tips anonymously as well as grant programs that are available to upgrade security at centers of worship.