California Boosts Efforts to Fight Surging Hate Crimes

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Kisha Smith

Hate crimes in California increased an alarming 32.6% from 2020 to 2021 and are at their highest reported level since 2001 according to a report recently released from California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

The 2021 Hate Crime in California Report found that hate crimes targeting Blacks remained most prevalent, increasing 12.5% from 456 in 2020 to 513 in 2021, while reported anti-Asian hate crime events rose 177.5% from 2020 to 2021. Crimes involving a sexual orientation bias also increased significantly, rising 47.8% from 2020 to 2021.

“Today’s report undeniably shows that the epidemic of hate we saw spurred on during the pandemic remains a clear and present threat,” said Attorney General Bonta. “In fact, reported hate crime has reached a level we haven’t seen in California since the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11.

“As our state’s top law enforcement officer, I will continue to use the full authority of my office to fight back. We will keep working with our local law enforcement partners and community organizations to make sure every Californian feels seen, heard, and protected. While there is no single solution, it’s up to all of us to heed the call, because when our communities feel empowered, they come forward. Now, more than ever, it is critical that we stand united — there is no place for hate in California.”

Ahead of the release of last year’s report, Attorney General Bonta launched the Racial Justice Bureau, which, among other things, supports the California Department of Justice’s broader mandate to advance the civil rights of all Californians by assisting with new and ongoing efforts to combat hate and bias. Since last year, the Attorney General has also engaged with local leaders through roundtables in San FranciscoOaklandSacramentoSan DiegoRiversideLong BeachSanta Ana, and San Jose.

Bonta has also formally announced the creation of a statewide hate crime coordinator position within the California Department of Justice’s Criminal Law Division in order to further assist state and local law enforcement efforts to combat hate crime.

The California Department of Justice has collected and reported statewide data on hate crimes since 1995. Under California law, a hate crime is a criminal act committed in whole or in part because of a victim’s actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or association with someone with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.

While hate crime data has generally been underreported, the total number of hate crime events reported in 2021 is the sixth highest ever recorded and the highest since hate crime events skyrocketed in 2001 in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11.


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