CALIFORNIA: On October 12, the Act Against Hate Alliance hosted the second of a 10-segment Anti-Hate Crime Media Series designed to bring members of the media together with other key statewide stakeholders to identify effective solutions against hate crimes. Funding for this series is provided by the California State Library under the Stop the Hate initiative.
With hate crimes in California and across the US rising, fostering fear throughout minority communities, Senator Gloria Romero addressed the issue drawing on her decades of experience. As the former California State Senate Majority Leader and the first woman to ever hold that post, Senator Romero also chaired the committees on Public Safey as well as Education. This experience created a unique perspective on hate incidents.
Senator Romero highlighted the importance of honest dialogue, and regular personal interactions with different ethnic groups as essential steps toward addressing hate crime. With numerous laws in place in California that already target hate crimes, she emphasized that creating more laws is not necessarily the answer.
“Crime has become the top issue as we prepare to go out and vote," Romero said. "We always talk about new legislation. I would be one to say that I think we’ve got plenty of laws on the books, including anti-hate crime legislation. We are not going to criminalize and prosecute our way out of this.”
With many Asian Americans worried about even going out of their homes, about the safety of their families, and especially their children and elderly relatives, Romero underscored the importance of education in moving forward.
“Education is very important,” Romero said. “It becomes really difficult to learn when you are in school if you are worried about your physical security.”
Ensuring that law enforcement takes hate crimes seriously is another important step in ensuring that victims are validated and supported such that they are not revictimized by the systems in place to protect them. Natalie Salazar is the Executive Director for the Los Angeles Regional Crime Stoppers Program, a non-profit organization facilitating reporting of crime. Her organization provides safe and anonymous reporting so that victims can take action without fear of retribution.
“This is important to look at another alternative (for people who were afraid to report crimes to law enforcement),” Salazar said.
Salazar emphasized that the organization called Crime Stoppers provides an 800 number tip line and makes it possible to report on their website whether witnessing or being personally impacted by a hate crime or hate incident. Crime Stoppers has been in existence since 1973 to make communities safer and to support those who are victims of crime.
“This is something that is critical in dealing with a number of our communities because people are afraid,” Salazar said. “And they are afraid of what can happen in their own neighborhoods if they are targeted, they are afraid of what can happen in their workplace.”
Senator Bob Huff, co-founder of ACT Against Hate Alliance, praised speakers Romero and Salazar for their wisdom and leadership as he summarized the focus of the organization.
“ACT Against Hate Alliance seeks to bring out the best of who we are as a state and as a nation: respectful, diverse, compassionate, non-partisan, and inclusive,” Huff stated. “We all know too well the devastation that hate crimes unleash on our communities, our state, and our world. Working together, we will rise to celebrate the values that unite us and to find answers to what divides us. We will act against hate.”
The next program in this media series will be held on November 9, 2022. More information is available on ACTAgainstHate.org