Incidents of racial and ethnic hate, both inter-personal expressions of hate and acts of violence, are coinciding with deepening political polarization, distrust of civic institutions, and widening racial, ethnic and class divides. In California, the state legislature has just launched an initiative called “Stop the Hate” to support nonprofits and ethnic media working to address the issue.

Becky L Monroe, deputy director for strategic initiatives and external affairs in the California Civil Rights Department (CRD) recently spoke about the CRD and the difference between a hate crime and a hate incident. 

“The basic definition of a hate crime under California law is a criminal act committed based on the actual or perceived characteristics of the victim: disability, gender, nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation,” said Monroe. “A hate incident is a hostile act or expression towards a person because of the same perceived or actual association with the same characteristics that fall under hate crimes. Hostile acts can also be considered hate incidents even if they don’t violate any civil rights laws but still cause harm to communities.” 

The CRD is helping solve hate crimes and incidents by creating a community-centered approach which will identify options and next steps for individuals and communities targeted by hate crimes. The CRD will connect with culturally competent resources and improve hate incidents and crime reporting data to enhance prevention and response time. 

Brian Levin, Director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, shared data on the increasing hate crimes towards different groups over the past year. The anti-Asian crime rate has risen to an astonishing 224 percent resulting in a new record of reported 369 hate crimes. The anti-Black crime rate has risen 46 percent since 2020.  

California Society for Healthcare Engineering (CSHE) data test run showed that Anti-Black hate crimes have stayed the most consistent. The anti-Latino crime rate has risen 41 percent over the past year. 

Levin also points out that some of the data received and shared are skewed because they do the test on bigger, diverse states and cities, which makes it seem like people of color are more likely to cause a hate crime or incident.  Anti-Black hate crimes also spiked in June 2020, which coincidently is right in the middle of the racial reckoning and about a week after the passing of George Floyd due to police brutality. 

To learn more about civil rights and the best course of action to deal with hate crimes and incidents, contact the US Civil Rights Commission at (213) 894-3437. Additionally, learn more about the different programs and resources available to stop hate crimes and incidents by visiting https://tinyurl.com/325nykhc. 

This article is a part of a series of articles for Our Weekly’s #StopTheHate campaign and is supported in whole or part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library. 

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