CALIFORNIA: The Act Against Hate Alliance recently hosted the first of a 10-segment Anti-Hate Crime Media Series bringing members of the media together with other key stakeholders in the fight against hate crimes. The rise in hate crimes throughout California and across the US has created widespread calls for action, with funding provided for this series by the California State Library under the state-wide Stop the Hate initiative.
Speakers for the Act Against Hate Alliance Media program included David McMurrin, Orange County Deputy District Attorney, Special Prosecuting Unit, who discussed the challenge of defining and prosecuting hate crimes and the importance of presenting the strongest possible case in order to bolster the possibility of convictions. McMurrin emphasized how important it is to report perceived hate crimes to law enforcement so that evidence can be collected and determinations made, by those in the best position to do so, about whether or not to prosecute.
Detective Jan Wong, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Hate Crimes Coordinator spoke about what law enforcement is doing to combat hate crimes. Actions include gathering data and sharing it with other agencies and serving as a resource to assist detectives with investigations into reported hate crimes. But fundamental to this framework is educating and working together.
“Two of the biggest steps that we are taking in our department are education and collaboration,” said Wong, “We enacted department wide education and training related to hate crimes…basics that we are trying to teach are what a hate crime is and how it differs from hate incidents. We are properly documenting these hate crimes, which is really important for tracking and data so we understand what the trends are, so we can better use our resources to target hate crimes in certain areas. We collaborate with community organizations like this one (Act Against Hate Alliance) and fostering good relationships and encouraging people to report. We provide different resources that make people feel more comfortable reporting hate crimes.”
Regina Wilson, Executive Director of California Black Media, highlighted the importance of mainstream media’s role in listening to the community, presenting balanced reporting, and helping to build relationships.
“The work that we are focusing on is making sure that leaders of communities know each other," Wilson said. "What we hope is that we can create communities to be connected well enough so that if there is a problem, we are able to talk through it and solve it."
California State Senator (Ret.) Bob Huff and Mei Mei Huff, co-founders of Act Against Hate Alliance, reiterated the AAHA principal focus is to stem the rise in hate crime and propose solutions.
“This program was an excellent start in setting forth some of the biggest issues,” said Mei Mei Huff. “The solutions that emerged today were the key role played by education and strengthening collaboration. Both of these timely topics will be the subject of our next program in this series.”
The next segment of the Act Against Hate Alliance will be held on October 12, 2022.