The last straw for the African American police officer living in an upscale Orange County community was the acid pellets someone shot into his garage in October, the corrosive capsules damaging his car.
It had been an ugly, racially tinged pattern since the Inglewood police officer, his wife — a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy — and their two children had moved into the Yorba Linda neighborhood in 2011.
Rocks were thrown through their windows, car tires were slashed, and racial taunts were shouted by passing motorists. One day, their 6-year-old son came home from school asking why his classmates said they couldn't play with him because he was black.
Fed up, the family fled the city a few weeks ago and moved out of the county to Corona, said the father, who asked that his name not be used out of fear for his safety. His wife reported the incidents to the Orange County Human Relations Commission, which tracks hate crimes in county.
In response, the commission said it intends to share the story with local politicians and conduct so-called listening sessions to gauge the experience of African Americans in Orange County.
"It just illustrates that even amid our really wonderful community, life is different for some people," said Rusty Kennedy, the executive director of the commission.
Though African Americans account for a small fraction of the county's population — no more than 2% — they are the most frequently targeted group for hate crimes, Kennedy said.
In Yorba Linda, a city of 65,000, African Americans make up a scant 1% of the population, according to census statistics. The city's mayor, Mark Schwing, did not return a request for comment. Neither did the city's Police Department.
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