Gov. Gavin Newsom this month signed a bill aimed at cracking down on hate crimes while protecting minority communities in California.

Assembly Bill 2282, authored by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orlinda), will  make it a criminal penalty to burn a cross, display a swastika or affix a noose in public, particularly if a done so in commission of a crime such as an assault on an individual or deliberate defacement of property.

“Individuals who use any of these three symbols will be subject to the strongest of these criminal penalties,” according to a statement from the governor’s office. “In this incredibly polarized America with hate crimes on the rise, we shouldn’t  differentiate between symbols of racism. Hate is hate.”

Persons who carry these symbols in public face up to three years in prison and/or a fine of $15,000.

“We all have to call out this ugliness,” Newsom continued, “wherever we see it and make sure hatemongers know their evil has no place.”

Also this month, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris hosted a day-long “United We Stand” summit that brought together civil rights, women’s rights and religious leaders to address the rise of hate and violence in the United States.

“We can’t keep fighting only in particular silo. We need to come together,” said Rev. Al Sharpton. 

The day of the summit, Sept. 15, marked the 59th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Ala. where four Black girls were murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan.

The summit was organized in part in response to the deadly mass shooting of nine African-American shoppers and workers inside a Tops grocery store in Buffalo, NY in May. It also paid recognition to other hate incidents like an hours-long hostage scare inside a Texas synagogue in February. Both incidents were committed by an alleged White supremacist gunman.

Biden has urged Congress to “get rid of special immunity” for the tech companies and “impose much stronger transparency requirements” regarding online hate speech. Both Sharpton and National Urban League President MArc H. Marial said during the summit that they have met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to encourage him to be more proactive in addressing hate speech and activity on his platforms which include Instagram and Whatsapp.

White House Domestic Advisor Susan Rice, who organized the summit, said the Biden-Harris administration was urged to act because “these platforms have been used time and again by violent extremists, among others, to recruit, to spread hate and to magnify the impact of their violence.”

It was announced that a new group, “New Pluralists,” has been created as a cross-partisan group of philanthropic and field leaders who will mobilize $1 billion in new investments that “build bridges” among Americans of different backgrounds to foster unity.

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

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