By Sharon Bernstein
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - The number of hate crimes committed in California decreased in 2014 by more than 12 percent, and complaints of hate crimes have dropped in half over the past 10 years, according to data released Thursday by the state.
The total number of incidents deemed to be hate crimes by authorities was 758 in 2014, down from 863 in 2013.
Of those, the most common were crimes based on race or ethnicity, which made up 54.4 percent of hate crimes last year. Of the 412 race or ethnicity-related hate crimes in 2014, 238 were anti-black, 60 were anti-Hispanic and 19 were anti-Asian/Pacific Islander.
There were 187 hate crimes based on a victim's sexual orientation, and 127 based on the victim's religion.
Of religious hate crimes, 80 were anti-Jewish, 18 were anti-Islamic and five were anti-Catholic in 2014, the state said.
The 2014 figures were part of a downward trend showing a drop in hate crimes in the state of about 46 percent from 2005.
Authorities did not speculate as to why hate crimes were going down, and at least one group, a civil rights advocacy organization for American Muslims, said that incidents in that community are going up.
In its annual report released on Thursday, the Council on American Islamic Relations described the murder of a Muslim man outside of a Home Depot store in Sacramento County.
Police at the time said that the victim, Hassan Alawsi, was stalked by his assailant inside the store as he attempted to shop with his sister, and then shot to death outside.
The group said it fielded 63 calls from community members reporting hate incidents and Islamophobia, including one regarding a woman who was accosted by men yelling slurs from a passing car. They then threw garbage and dirty underwear at her.
According to the state data, hate crimes against Muslims in California rose from 12 in 2005 to 21 in 2013, before dropping to 18 last year.
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Sandra Maler)