OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Hate crimes in California have reached their highest level in more than a decade, particularly in the Asian community which has seen hate crimes more than double in 2020, according to new data unveiled Wednesday by Attorney General Rob Bonta.

At a press conference in the Pacific Renaissance Plaza in Oakland’s Chinatown Wednesday, Bonta announced the results of a special report on hate crime in the state, as well as guidance for law enforcement and prosecutors combating such crimes, and tools for the public seeking information on hate crimes in California.

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The report tallied 1,330 bias events in 2020, a 31% increase from 1,015 in 2019. Despite the reported increases, the state Department of Justice recognizes that hate crimes in the state are generally underreported and the figures may not reflect the actual number of cases. The findings also showed anti-Black hate crimes to be the most prevalent in the state.

Looking at anti-Asian hate crime in particular, the number of events increased 107% from 43 in 2019 to 89 in 2020, with the highest numbers reported in March and April during the height of pandemic which Bonta said was fueled by hateful rhetoric at the highest levels of public office.

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“For too many, 2020 wasn’t just about a deadly virus, it was about an epidemic of hate,” said Bonta in a prepared statement. “The facts here are clear: There was a surge in anti-Asian violence correlated with the words of leaders who sought to divide us when we were at our most vulnerable. But one of our most powerful weapons against hate is knowledge. When we’re armed with the facts, we put ourselves in a position to be our own best advocates; we put ourselves in a position to be able to fight for what is right.”

Among the reports findings:

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  • Anti-Black bias events were the most prevalent, increasing 87% from 243 in 2019 to 456 in 2020
  • Anti-white bias events also increased from 39 in 2019 to 82 in 2020
  • Hate crime events motivated by religion decreased 13.5%, with anti-Jewish events falling 18.4% from 141 in 2019 to 115 in 2020
  • Hate crime events involving sexual orientation also fell 12% from 233 in 2019 to 205 in 2020
  • Of the 108 cases filed for prosecution with a disposition available for the report, 42.6% were hate crime convictions, 45.4% were other convictions, and 12% did not result in any conviction.

Bonta urged law enforcement and members of the public to take advantage of the wide array of information and resources being provided so that all Californians can be part of the fight to tackle hate at its roots.