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    More Troubling AAPI Hate Crime Numbers

    By Assemblymember Phil Ting–

    Despite efforts to stop hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, the numbers continued to increase in 2021. A new report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino shows another surge in anti-AAPI hate crimes in major cities across the country last year. When compared to 2020 figures, for example, San Francisco saw an astonishing 576 percent increase, while Los Angeles experienced a 173 percent jump.

    To help address the problem, I introduced AB 1947 this month, requiring all California law enforcement agencies to adopt an updated hate crimes policy—which, unbelievably, is not required by the state. The protocols would be standardized, including how authorities recognize, report, and respond to hate crimes. We can’t have one jurisdiction treat a hate crime one way, while another locale a few miles away does nothing. That leads to an incomplete and inaccurate picture of hate in our state.

    Even before the pandemic, a 2018 state audit found law enforcement in California inadequately identified, reported, or responded to hate crimes. The findings further concluded the state’s hate crimes are under-reported by 14 percent due, in part, to outdated or nonexistent policies. When there is consistency to the responses victims receive and the information being collected, we can enact better solutions and appropriate needed resources.

    I’m fortunate that my proposal has the support of Monthanus Ratanapakdee, whose 84-year-old father, Vichar, was violently shoved to the ground a year ago during his daily walk around his San Francisco neighborhood. The elderly man never regained consciousness. His death influenced his daughter to begin raising awareness about what hate can do. She believes that by requiring police to handle hate crimes the same way under AB 1947, victims and families can get the justice they deserve. Authorities would no longer be able to be dismissive or take things lightly. Hate crimes carry penalty enhancements and should apply to appropriate cases.

    The San Francisco Police Department was one of the early adopters of a hate crimes unit in 1990. A year later, they were instrumental in the formation of the Bay Area Hate Crimes Investigator’s Association, comprised of officers from nine counties in our region. Their members interact with each other, working toward a common goal of ridding communities of bias-related crimes. That type of cooperation is needed throughout our state.

    While my bill was inspired by AAPI hate, the legislation would apply to all races, religions, disabilities, genders, sexual orientation, and other protected characteristics. The Cal State San Bernardino report I mentioned earlier also noted hate crimes were up 11 percent overall last year, with African Americans remaining the most targeted community. There has also been a resurgence in anti-Semitic hate crimes.

    Unfortunately, hate against the LGBTQ community also continues to this day, despite progress in attaining rights and equality. In tallying the numbers from the cities across the country they studied, researchers found gay men ranked among the top three targets of hate crimes in the majority of those jurisdictions.   

    This has to end. Crimes motivated by hate are not just attacks on innocent individuals, but also on our communities. Strength and more consistency in the handling of such crimes sends a message that hate will not be tolerated.

    Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the Westside of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma, and Daly City.

    Published on February 24, 2022