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Hate crimes increasing ahead of election

40+ potential hate crime cases filed this year
Posted at 6:31 PM, Nov 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-03 08:44:51-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- It is a trend that happens around election time—an increase in hate crimes.

“The weeks before and after, particularly the presidential elections, we do see a pretty marked increase in hate crimes,” said Leonard Trinh with the hate crime unit at the District Attorney's Office. “In 2016, the two weeks after the election were very busy. In fact, I think the busiest day for hate crimes was the day after the 2016 election. But that was true in 2012 and 2008 and before.”

In June, a man was caught on cell phone video punching a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Imperial Beach. The DA’s office filed felony assault and battery charges and hate crime allegations against two men, Jeffrey Brooks and Henry Brooks Jr.

In September, the St. Peter’s Chaldean Catholic Cathedral in El Cajon was vandalized with a mix of graffiti. Swastikas, “BLM,” and “Biden 2020” was spray painted on the exterior.

Last month, Rabbi Yonatin Helevy said he was attacked by a teenager on a bicycle, who hit him over the head and yelled a racial slur. A 14-year-old was arrested.

Trinh said as of Friday, there were 42 potential hate crime cases this year. Six of them were reported in the past few weeks. 17 people have been charged so far.

He said they are currently reviewing two more potential hate crime cases that came in this weekend. “We work very with our law enforcement partners and with community leaders,” Trinh said. “We encourage them to report hate crimes and hate incidents whenever they happen.”

Trinh said the pandemic has also affected the local Asian-American community. Two hate crime cases were filed in connection to anti-Asian sentiment. In the two previous years, there were no hate crimes filed involving hate against this community.

Trinh explained the difference between a hate crime and hate incident.

“A hate incident is the use of a racial slur or a homophobic slur or anti-Semitic slur where there’s no threat of violence directed at any person or group of people and no ability to carry out that threat,” Trinh said. A hate crime involves physical harm and actual threats.

People should not dismiss hate incidents as harmless, Trinh said.

“Those are still concerning because incidents are oftentimes precursors to hate crimes.” Trinh added.

Imam Taha Hassane with the Islamic Center said they have seen an increase in reported hate incidents.

“We’re working basically at this moment with our local law enforcement to secure our houses of worship,” Hassane said.

He said they are preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.

“We don't want people to be at risk or threatened just because of this election,” Hassane said. “The whole world is watching. The whole world is observing and we want to show our civility, our respect to one another, no matter what the result of the election will be.”