Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Hate Crimes Are Increasing in California. The State Is Hoping a Hotline Can Help
gvw_calmatters
By CalMatters
Published 9 months ago on
July 10, 2023

Share

Five years ago, Robin Toma, executive director of Los Angeles County’s Commission on Human Relations, was alarmed after reading the county’s annual hate crime report. Hate crimes had been steadily rising since 2013, and it was proof, he said, that the commission had more work to do to stop the pernicious spread of racism and bigotry.

Julie Lynem

Special to CalMatters

Toma approached county Supervisor Hilda Solis with an idea to establish an anti-hate program that assisted people who reported hate crimes and hate incidents, which are hostile acts motivated by prejudice but don’t necessarily rise to the level of a crime. The system would involve a 211 L.A. hotline, resources to respond to hate, an education component, and support for organizations advocating for victims.

In 2018, LA vs. Hate was born, helping Los Angeles County residents under a model that, this year, was replicated statewide.

 

California vs. Hate, the state’s multilingual hotline, online portal and support network, was launched in May as a non-emergency program through the state Civil Rights Department. Like its L.A. counterpart, California vs. Hate tracks hate crimes and incidents and connects residents with resources like therapy, legal aid or grants for organizations offering victim support.

If successful, the program could be “a real bulwark, a real antiracism system that can take us to a point of not just stopping the rising hate but also reversing it,” Toma said.

The question is whether California vs. Hate will be effective. Hate crimes and violent incidents in L.A. County increased 23% in 2021, despite the important work done by LA vs. Hate. And, can a new statewide system reach people at the margins and build trust with underrepresented groups that are already skeptical of government entities designed to protect them.

“It’s not enough to be heard,” said Lorreen Pryor, president and CEO of the Black Youth Leadership Project based in Elk Grove. “We want someone to deal with it and stop it from happening.”

While California is often perceived as a progressive bastion, it is no stranger to hate. Newly released data from the state Attorney General’s Office shows that reported hate crimes increased 22% from 2021 to 2022. Black people remain the most targeted, with reported hate crimes increasing 27%. Hate crimes involving bias against sexual orientation rose 29%.

Nationwide, hate crimes have increased nearly 12%, according to the latest data from the FBI.

While some advocates see California vs. Hate as a significant step to stop and even prevent hateful acts, not everyone is as optimistic.

Pryor wondered what impact it will have on the Black community. Valuable resources are helpful, she said, but that requires community members to understand every facet of the system. They also need to have a sense that hotline workers will know what it’s like to walk in their shoes.

“I need to know that the person on the other end has been through something similar and can support me through that and will be there in that moment and for what comes next,” Pryor said.

California vs. Hate has so far received 180 reported acts from roughly 40% of the state’s 58 counties. Most of the reports came by phone.

“It’s not enough to be heard. We want someone to deal with it and stop it from happening.”

Lorreen Pryor, president and CEO of the Black Youth Leadership Project

About half of the people who contacted the hotline agreed to continue working with professionals who can follow up with additional support – whether it’s legal, mental health-related or possible victim compensation. Civil Rights Department officials say staff members are trained to deal with trauma and communicate with people from diverse cultural backgrounds. To help increase access to California communities, the initiative is in the process of implementing a multilingual outreach campaign.

Building trust is key, and to that end, officials are engaging with those who have been historically mistrustful of law enforcement, said Kevin Kish, director of the state’s Civil Rights Department. As California vs. Hate developed, officials gathered input from about 100 community organizations, and plan to continue partnerships with various groups emphasizing community healing.

Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit founded during the pandemic to combat anti-Asian hatred, knows what it takes to confront bigotry by building coalitions and advocating for new laws. Cofounder Cynthia Choi said gathering data to identify the needs of specific community members and collaborating with government is important, but so is strengthening relationships with every community.

“We see this work as being very much long term, and it’s going to take all of us,” Choi said.

As a victim of hate, Hong Lee understands why some people may be hesitant to come forward. In 2020, Lee was waiting to order lunch at a restaurant in Los Angeles when she was harassed by a man who told her to go back to Asia. Lee filmed the incident and called 911, but an officer on scene told her the interaction was normal.

After learning about LA vs. Hate from a friend, Lee received counseling services. She also worked with the Los Angeles Police Department to rewrite policies for handling hate crime incidents and helped retrain patrol officers for when they respond to hate incidents. As president of Seniors Fight Back, a Torrance nonprofit offering free self-defense classes to elders in the AAPI community, she found a way to assist others.

“It’s hard to describe, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without them,” Lee said.

Since 2019, 2,171 people have submitted a report to 211 L.A. and agreed to further assistance, according to provisional figures from the county’s human rights commission.

For advocates like Toma, the success of California vs. Hate’s will ultimately come down to its ability to follow a similar path as L.A., one that leaves no individual or community behind.

“Nobody is more inspiring and influential than victims of hate who are empowered now to speak up and encourage others to report and take action, and not accept this as something you have to put up with,” he said.

About the Author

Julie Lynem is a journalism lecturer at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and cofounder of R.A.C.E. Matters SLO County and RaiseUp SLO. Lynem is a veteran journalist who has been a reporter, columnist or editor at the Indianapolis Star, San Francisco Chronicle and San Luis Obispo Tribune.

About CalMatters

CalMatters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom committed to explaining California policy and politics.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

A Fresno Edition of Monopoly? That’s Capitalism at Work, Baby!

DON'T MISS

California Officials Sue Huntington Beach Over Voter ID Law Passed at Polls

DON'T MISS

Indiana Fever Receives No. 1 Overall Draft Pick Caitlin Clark

DON'T MISS

Which Fresno Restaurants Are Best? The Pros Picked These Places.

DON'T MISS

Trump’s Historic Hush-Money Trial Gets Underway; 1st Day Ends Without Any Jurors Being Picked

DON'T MISS

Fresno-Madera United Way Launches National Search for New CEO

DON'T MISS

Justice Thomas Misses Supreme Court Session Monday With No Explanation

DON'T MISS

‘Civil War’ Declares Victory at the Box Office, Toppling ‘Godzilla X Kong’

DON'T MISS

Why Tortillas Sold in California May Be Forced to Add a New Ingredient

DON'T MISS

Costco Tries Again at City Council for Big NW Fresno Move

UP NEXT

Trump’s Historic Hush-Money Trial Gets Underway; 1st Day Ends Without Any Jurors Being Picked

UP NEXT

Palestinian Supporters Block Golden Gate Bridge in Nationwide Protest

UP NEXT

Bureau of Prisons to Close California Women’s Prison Where Inmates Have Been Subjected to Sex Abuse

UP NEXT

How California Legislators Got More Than $1.4 Million in Travel and Gifts in 2023

UP NEXT

Sacramento Gave Homeless Camp a Lease as an Experiment. Here’s What Happened.

UP NEXT

California Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life for Fatal Freeway Shooting of 6-Year-Old Boy

UP NEXT

Oakland Officials Vote to Include ‘San Francisco’ in Airport’s Name

UP NEXT

Convicted Killer of College Student Kristin Smart Attacked at California Prison for Second Time

UP NEXT

Ohtani’s Ex-Interpreter Charged With Stealing $16M in Betting Case

UP NEXT

After Fong Ruling, a ‘Bitter Pill to Swallow’ for US Senate Losers Katie Porter & Barbara Lee?

Which Fresno Restaurants Are Best? The Pros Picked These Places.

13 hours ago

Trump’s Historic Hush-Money Trial Gets Underway; 1st Day Ends Without Any Jurors Being Picked

13 hours ago

Fresno-Madera United Way Launches National Search for New CEO

Local /

14 hours ago

Justice Thomas Misses Supreme Court Session Monday With No Explanation

15 hours ago

‘Civil War’ Declares Victory at the Box Office, Toppling ‘Godzilla X Kong’

15 hours ago

Why Tortillas Sold in California May Be Forced to Add a New Ingredient

15 hours ago

Costco Tries Again at City Council for Big NW Fresno Move

16 hours ago

Scheffler Turns the Masters Into Another Sunday Yawner With a Dominating Win

17 hours ago

Ethiopia’s Lemma Wins, Fresno’s Albertson 7th in Boston Marathon. Kenya’s Obiri Retains Women Title.

17 hours ago

Vegas, US Tour and More Signings: Wrexham Has Plenty of Fun and Work Ahead After Latest Promotion

17 hours ago

A Fresno Edition of Monopoly? That’s Capitalism at Work, Baby!

Alright, cats and kittens, straphang onto your beanies because I’m about to lay a news flash on you that’s so whimsically wild it coul...

12 hours ago

Fresno Monopoly Edition
12 hours ago

A Fresno Edition of Monopoly? That’s Capitalism at Work, Baby!

12 hours ago

California Officials Sue Huntington Beach Over Voter ID Law Passed at Polls

12 hours ago

Indiana Fever Receives No. 1 Overall Draft Pick Caitlin Clark

13 hours ago

Which Fresno Restaurants Are Best? The Pros Picked These Places.

13 hours ago

Trump’s Historic Hush-Money Trial Gets Underway; 1st Day Ends Without Any Jurors Being Picked

Local /
14 hours ago

Fresno-Madera United Way Launches National Search for New CEO

15 hours ago

Justice Thomas Misses Supreme Court Session Monday With No Explanation

15 hours ago

‘Civil War’ Declares Victory at the Box Office, Toppling ‘Godzilla X Kong’

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend