A neo-Nazi group scheduling a “meet and greet” in Fresno. Attacks on Asians and members of the LGBTQ+ community. A community’s opposition to renaming their valley to remove an ethnic slur.
Hate has many faces and many variations, and a new group is determined to rally community resources to identify it, report it, and work toward eliminating it.
The second in a series of such meetings is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Central East High School, 3535 N. Cornelia Ave., in the performing arts center.
The attendees will include representatives of the California Department of Justice-Community Awareness, Response, and Engagement team, U.S. Attorney’s Office, The Jakara Movement, The Fresno Center, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Fresno’s LBGTQ+ community, and the Fresno chapter of the Black American Political Association of California, said Dr. Deron Miller, who serves on the boards of the nonprofit and the newspaper.
Seeking Widespread Input
The first town hall was in Huron, the third will be in Madera — organizers are still seeking a venue — and the fourth in the eastern part of Fresno County, Miller told GV Wire.
They are part of the state of California’s Stop the Hate Initiative, with funding through the California State Library, Miller said.
Wednesday’s town hall was scheduled long before news surfaced that the Aryan Freedom Network will hold a “meet and greet” Saturday in Fresno, he said.
Instead, the impetus for the town hall meetings was a series of incidents that have occurred in recent months around Fresno, including the anti-Asian targeting of Sanger Unified Trustee Brandon Yang, Miller said.
Some, but not all, have been the subject of news media reports. “There are these incidents that are happening around Fresno that I’m not sure that everybody’s aware of,” he said. “And so that’s one of the other underlying factors we want to make sure is, is that what people do in the dark, they do have a little bit more freedom.
“If there’s some light that’s shed on it, more eyesight, more observations, sometimes people are less likely to do things they shouldn’t be doing. And so that’s one of the underlying premises we want to use as we’re going forward as well.”
For example, Miller said, the Department of Justice’s CARE unit will provide some statistics on hate incidents and then provide information on how to report them, including incidents that they observe but that are not directed toward them but toward someone else.
Miller said organizers are already talking about forming a citizen’s council to focus on hate incidents in the community. It would provide a local venue for reporting and discussing hate incidents that don’t rise to the level of being a prosecutable hate crime but can still be identified and appropriately reported, he said.
There also may be opportunities to participate in a federal hate crime task force in an advisory capacity, Miller said.
“That’s really some of the other things we’re talking about, is seeing if we can’t get seats at the table, when they’re there actually having those discussions, and not just be observers in the process. So it’s a work in progress.”