In the wake of newly released statistics revealing a large increase in hate crime and hate incidents in Orange County, county Supervisor Todd Spitzer is alleging the district attorney he wants to replace, Tony Rackauckas, has overseen “lax prosecution methods” that “have placed residents at risk.”
First, click here to read my colleague Gabriel San Roman’s story on the Orange County Human Relations Commission 2017 Hate Crimes Report that was released Tuesday and shows 56 hate crimes, 94 hate incidents and the belief that the actual numbers may be under-reported by as much as 50 percent.
“Reported hate crime is up 27 percent since 2015, yet, our county does not prosecute hate crimes at the same rate as Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties,” Spitzer says in a statement from his office. “This is a disservice to targets of hate crime and does not speak to the critical need to pursue justice for all victims.”
Spitzer, a former prosecutor under Rackauckas, cites figures that show the Orange County District Attorney’s office filed charges in 57 percent of the hate crimes during the past 13 years while in Los Angeles County it was 70 percent and in San Diego and San Bernardino counties it was 80 percent.
The Rackauckas campaign responded by saying the incumbent DA “vigorously prosecutes all crimes, including hate crime.”
But Spitzer zeroed in the figures showing 40 percent of the hate crimes that occurred in 2017 in Orange County happened in a public parks or shopping center and 23 percent were in schools to observe, “The thought of hate brewing among our young people is especially disturbing. Every hate crime committed by an adult that is not prosecuted shows to our young people that bigotry and hatred is tolerated.”
He called the 2017 hate-crime report “a wake-up call.”
“Orange County’s low prosecution rate sends a message to the entire community that hate crimes are inconsequential,” Spitzer says. “Orange County should be a leader in hate crime prosecutions, not the follower.”
In a separate statement from the Spitzer campaign for DA, the candidate blames Rackauckas for “the lowest hate crime filing rate in Southern California because he waited until the height of election season before pursuing hate crime prosecutions more vigorously.”
“Once again Tony Rackauckas has delayed justice for victims and now innocent people are being targeted because hate crime has been left unchecked in Orange County,” says candidate Spitzer. “It’s too little to late–voters will see right through his sudden action right before the November election.”
Rackauckas received 209,148 votes, or 38.5 percent, in the June 5 primary to Spitzer’s 191,346 or 35.2 percent. However, in a sign that voters may want change in a scandal-plagued OCDA office (see R. Scott Moxley’s stories … any of them), a third candidate, former Brea mayor Brett Murdock, received 121,818 votes (or 22.4 percent).
Only the top two vote-getters, T-Rack and Spitzer, advanced to the Nov. 6 general election.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.