Press conference comes amidst startling increase in violent attacks against Asian Americans
Sacramento, CA—Members of the Asian Pacific Islander (API) Legislative Caucus gathered today to denounce the recent string of violent attacks against Asian Americans and to propose new legislation aimed at addressing this growing crisis. One new bill proposed, Assembly Bill 557 by Assemblymembers David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), would create a statewide hate crimes hotline housed within the California Department of Justice.
"Over the course of this pandemic, we have seen a horrific uptick in hate crimes targeting our API communities," said Assemblymember Chiu. "We cannot stand idly by and allow this to continue. Having a centralized, statewide approach to tracking hate crimes will make all of our communities in California safer."
“Unfortunately, hate crimes are on the rise across California, including in the South Bay. Indeed, according to recent data from the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are more than 72 hate groups currently operating in California, which is the highest number in the country,” said Assemblymember Muratsuchi. “The hotline will provide a safe, anonymous place for people to report a hate crime, many of whom may face cultural or linguistic barriers or who may distrust authorities. We all want to see a California that is free of hate and this bill will be a big step to make that happen.”
AB 557 will require the Department of Justice to establish a toll-free phone hotline for the public to report hate crimes and to direct victims to local law enforcement agencies, services, and resources. The hotline will operate Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for federal and state holidays. It will be accessible to people with disabilities and people who do not speak English. Following reports of an increase in hate crimes nationwide, similar hotlines have been established recently in other states and in parts of California, including by the district attorneys’ offices of the City and County of San Francisco and the County of Alameda.
According to the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center, during the COVID crisis, hate incidents against Asian-Americans have increased dramatically, with more than 2,800 reports nationally and more than 700 in the Bay Area. Recent incidents in the Bay Area have left several elderly API individuals injured, with one man dying from his injuries.
Under Assemblymember Chiu’s tenure as Chair of the API Legislative Caucus, the Caucus has advocated for a number of reforms to help address anti-Asian hate and violence. These proposals included the creation of a racial bias task force staffed with immigrant advocates, issuance of state agency guidelines to combat stereotyping and bullying in the context of COVID, and increased funding for the Stop AAPI Hate project and other similar projects documenting the impact of COVID on API communities.