By Assemblymember Phil Ting
The hateful rhetoric being spewed from D.C. today has a tragic side effect—it gives permission to those with hate in their hearts to act on their prejudice at a time when leaders should instead be working towards inclusion with liberty and justice for all.
In California alone, there are 79 hate groups and, unfortunately, hate crimes were already on the rise before the new president took office. The 2015 Hate Crime in California report by the state Attorney General found that, from 2014 to 2015, hate crime events increased by 10.4 percent. The most common types of hate crimes are those committed with a racial, ethnic, or nationality bias, followed by sexual orientation bias, and religious bias.
In 2015, California had 188 hate crimes perpetrated due to the victim’s sexual orientation and 26 hate crimes against transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. In total, 25.3 percent of all hate crimes reported in 2015 were with a bias against LGBT people.
The same report found that hate crimes with an anti-black bias motivation accounted for nearly 32 percent of all hate crimes from 2006 to 2015. A report from the Cal State San Bernardino Center on Hate & Extremism found that anti-Muslim hate crimes in California dramatically increased 122 percent from 2014 to 2015. This alarming surge in hate crimes will likely continue to grow due to the hateful discourse and shortsighted policies that the federal government is pursuing.
California is a state of inclusion and diversity and, in order to preserve those values and help prevent hate crimes, I introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 1161, which is sponsored by Equality California, to update the hate crime policies within police departments. Many police departments across the state have hate crime policies, but many of them are outdated and should be updated to include the model policy framework from the state Commission on Peace Officer Training (POST), which is more expansive and incorporates first responder and reporting responsibilities, training resources, and planning and prevention methods.
While California has some of the nation’s strongest hate crime laws, hate crimes can be difficult to prove. A perpetrator doesn’t always shout racist or prejudiced words while committing the crime. AB 1161 would provide a framework for police officers to understand what may be a bias motivator, which can help them determine whether or not an incident is a hate crime.
Unfortunately, most hate crimes are never reported, showing a need for law enforcement to reach out the community at large. That’s why AB 1161 requires law enforcement agencies developing their hate crimes policies to also reach out to community groups in order to receive their input and to build a partnership with the goal of stopping these heinous acts from occurring.
We can’t legislate a person’s opinions, no matter how wrong or absurd they may be. But we can do our best to provide all the resources necessary to help police officers prevent hate crimes and to protect their communities by responding to them in the best way possible. It’s not just up to law enforcement to protect those around us; as members of the community, we each have the responsibility to provide assistance wherever we can. If you see a hate crime happening, contact our local law enforcement right away so that officers can respond.
As a father of two, I believe strongly that we have a duty to speak out against injustice to show younger generations the virtues of acceptance, tolerance, and equal rights. When communities fight back against hate crimes, we become stronger together and united in battling D.C.’s toxic vitriol from spreading West.
Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the Westside of San Francisco along with Broadmoor, Colma, Daly City and parts of South San Francisco.