Glendale town hall seeks solutions to rising Southern California hate incidents

May 1 2023

A town hall to bring awareness to anti-Armenian racism and other hate is set for Thursday, May 4, in Glendale.

The event, organized by the L.A. County Commission on Human Relations and the Truth And Accountability League (TAAL), seeks to foster a discussion on solutions to rising anti-Armenian incidents, along with other forms or hate against other minority groups in the county.

Moderated by TAAL’s founder & Chair, Vic Gerami, and live-streamed on various platforms, the event’s panel of elected officials and experts include the L.A. County Commission on Human Relations Executive Robin S. Toma, Esq., Glendale Mayor Daniel Brotman, Police Chief Manuel Cid, Chief of Staff Joseph F. Iniguez from the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office, State Commissioner Sam Kbushyan, and West Hollywood Mayor Sepi Shyne.

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, will likely be the last panelist, organizers said Monday. Other elected officials, dignitaries, community leaders, and stakeholders are confirmed to attend.

The discussion follows a recent spate of incendiary incidents that have troubled local resident and leaders.

Last month, Glendale police began investigating as a possible hate crime fliers containing anti-Armenian sentiments. They were found posted on poles near St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church in the city, sparking condemnation from city officials.

The fliers reportedly contained messages denying the Armenian genocide, while claiming that Israel “fully supports” its completion. According to reports, The fliers also referenced the ongoing blockade of the Nagorno-Karabakh region by Azerbaijan, which has become a humanitarian crisis.

The region is populated primarily by ethnic Armenians but lies within Azerbaijan. Last year, Azerbaijanis claiming to be environmental activists began blocking a winding road known as the Lachin Corridor that forms the only land connection between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

The blockade threatens food supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh’s 120,000 people. Armenia argues the protests are orchestrated by Azerbaijan and says the country also has repeatedly halted supplies of gas to the region — a claim Azerbaijan also rejected.

That spate of hate coincides with the finding late last year of plastic bags containing fliers with antisemitic messages that were left on driveways and in front of homes in San Marino and Pasadena at the start of the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur.

The incidents come amid a general rise in hate crimes in L.A. County.

Reported hate crimes in the rose to their highest level in 19 years in 2021, jumping 23% from the previous year, according to a report released in December by the county Commission on Human Relations.

According to the report, there were 786 reported hate crimes in the county last year, up from 641 the prior year. The number is the highest it has been since 2002.

The number of hate crimes targeting Asian residents rose to 77, the highest number in at least 20 years, according to the report. In roughly one-fourth of the crimes targeting Asians, the victims were blamed for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report noted that 46% of racially based hate crimes targeted Black residents, although they only make up 9% of the overall population, and religion-based hate crimes jumped by 29%, with 74% of the offenses targeting Jews. Crimes based on sexual orientation jumped by 15% year over year, with 85% of those crimes targeting gay men.

The event is from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 4, at Glendale Central Library, 222 East Harvard St., Glendale.

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this article.