Hate crimes in California at an all-time high
Hate crimes in California hit an all-time high in more than a decade from 2019 to 2020, according to a new report from the state’s Department of Justice, with the Blacks being 30 percent of the victims.
The report, released Wednesday after a news conference held by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, also found that hate crimes targeting Asian Americans saw a 107 percent increase in that same period, from 43 in 2019 to 89 in 2020.
“What we see from these reports is what we have seen and felt all year,” Bonta said during the conference at Pacific Renaissance Plaza in Oakland. “We are in the midst of a racial justice reckoning in this country.”
Bonta added that despite the reported increases, hate crimes are generally underreported. Advocates and experts say it’s important to note that hate crime data is unreliable for multiple reasons – including varying definitions of hate crimesacross jurisdictions – and that the 107 percent cited by law enforcement is not statistically significant.
Hate crimes can’t be solved overnight, but it starts with being aware of what is happening, Bonta said.
The report was one of several measures the attorney general announced to address the rise in hate crimes. His office has also issued information bulletins and prosecutor guidance to ensure law enforcement officials across the state are informed about how to respond to hate crimes appropriately; new best practices and resource guidance for prosecutors for combating these crimes; brochures in 25 languages to help individuals identify and report hate crimes, and access direct assistance; and new dashboards on the OpenJustice data portal exploring hate crimes and bias motivation.
Carl Chan, president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce and a recent victim of a hate crime, said on Wednesday that he hopes the solutions provided by the attorney general’s office will encourage victims to come forward.
“Together, we can actually stop all these hate crimes not only for the AAPI community – we can stop the hate crime against any community,” he said.
Oakland City Councilmember Sheng Thao said at the news conference that the impact of anti-Asian rhetoric from the previous presidential administration has stoked fear into local communities.
“Our seniors are more afraid now than ever to walk the streets in fear that they will be harmed, that they will be robbed,” she said.
Thao added that in Oakland’s Chinatown, declines in businesses aren’t only due to restrictions brought on by the pandemic, but because of anti-Asian hate.
“People are fearful of walking the streets to go out and do basic things like buy vegetables, meet with friends at a coffee shop to have discussions in the morning like they used to every day,” she said.
Bonta, Chan and Thao urged victims or those who know victims of hate crimes to report it to law enforcement.
“It is only through data and counting your reports that will ensure that we can move forward with the resources that all communities need to actually come up with solutions,” she said.