Source: US State of California
Alongside legislative leaders, Attorney General highlights resources in multiple languages and releases video urging the public to report suspected hate crimes
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra — joined by leaders of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, California Legislative Black Caucus, California Latino Legislative Caucus, California Legislative Jewish Caucus, and California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus — today released a video urging Californians to stand united against hate and report suspected hate crimes to their local law enforcement agency. The Attorney General highlighted shareable digital resources in 14 languages to help educate the public and help survivors get the information they need. Increased reports of hate incidents and crimes throughout the United States have accompanied the charged rhetoric surrounding COVID-19. The California Department of Justice is committed to assisting state, local, and federal partners in tackling hate crimes wherever they occur.
“It’s going to take all of us working together to take on hate and its corrosive effects on our society,” said Attorney General Becerra. “That’s why we stand united against hate and we hope you’ll join us in fighting back. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a hate crime, report it. Millions of us call this state home — we won’t let trumped up rhetoric tear us apart. No matter where you’re from, who you love, or how you worship, it takes all of us to build a better place and a better future for our children.”
“I commend Attorney General Becerra for bringing together this coalition of legislators to speak out against hate and bigotry,” said Senator Scott Wiener. “Especially after last month — when, in an episode highlighting the structural racism embedded deep in our society, George Floyd, a black man, was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer — we must stand firmly against racism and hate. As we celebrate Pride Month, I’m thinking about how at the first Pride, after the Stonewall riots, LGTBQ pioneers stood proudly against oppression and violence in celebration of our community. I carry that sentiment with me in continuing our fight for equity and justice.”
Hate crimes are serious crimes that may result in imprisonment or jail time for offenders. In April, the California Department of Justice issued an information bulletin to provide an updated summary and reminder to local law enforcement agencies about the multiple California criminal laws that prohibit hate crimes and provide enhanced penalties for specified hate-related acts. Under California law, a hate crime is defined as a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of the victim’s actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. Hate crimes also include criminal acts committed, in whole or in part, because of a person’s association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics. Hate crimes are distinct from hate incidents, which are actions or behaviors motivated by hate that are protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of expression. Examples of hate incidents include name-calling, insults, and distributing hate material in public places. If a hate incident starts to threaten a person or property, it may become a hate crime.
If you believe you or someone you know has been the victim of a hate crime, notify local law enforcement authorities and consider taking the following steps:
- If you are in immediate danger, call 911;
- If needed, seek medical attention;
- Write down the exact words that were used and take note of any other relevant facts so that you don’t forget;
- If safe to do so, save all evidence and take photos;
- Get contact information for other victims and witnesses; and
- Reach out to community organizations in your area that deal with hate crimes or incidents.
Please also be aware that California law prohibits law enforcement authorities from asking individuals, including those who are reporting or are victims of potential crimes, about their immigration status, unless the information is necessary to certify the victim for a U visa (victim of crime visa) or T visa (victim of human trafficking visa). More information on state and federal laws protecting immigrant victims of crime is available here.
Many legal aid clinics are offering telephone appointments while physical offices are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. These clinics provide free or low-cost civil legal assistance to low-income Californians. To find a clinic in your region, visit the State Bar. Information on additional resources for victims of hate crimes is available through the Victims of Crime Resource Center. Information on the California Department of Justice’s efforts to protect the public during COVID-19 is available on the Attorney General’s website at https://oag.ca.gov/consumers/COVID-19. More information on tools and resources to combat hate crimes is available at https://oag.ca.gov/hatecrimes.
Information on hate crime statistics in California is currently available through 2018 on OpenJustice.
The video released today is available here. Shareable graphics for use on social media are available in Arabic, Armenian, Cambodian, Chinese, English, Hindi, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese here.