Recommit to taking action in response to California Attorney General’s 2021 Hate Crimes Report
- Abigail Rivamonte Mesa
San Francisco – Today in Chinatown, Assemblymember Matt Haney and representatives from California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s Office stood with Asian Pacific Islander (API), Black, and LGBTQ leaders to draw attention to the dramatic increase in hate crimes statewide, including the 177.5% increase in reported anti-Asian hate crimes, and to outline statewide efforts to fight these crimes.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Bonta’s Office released the 2021 Hate Crime in California Report showing that overall reported hate crimes in California increased by 32.6% from 2020 to 2021 and are at their highest reported level since 2001. Hate crimes targeting the Black and API communities, as well as hate crimes involving sexual orientation bias, all increased significantly over a one year period.
“The California Department of Justice report only confirms what we’ve been hearing from API communities all over San Francisco,” said Assemblymember Haney. “And it’s not just violent hate crimes that are on the rise. For every crime that’s reported to the police there are hundreds of incidents of hate based harassment and even violence that go unreported—often targeted at women and seniors.”
“The 2021 hate crime report undeniably shows that the epidemic of hate we saw spurred on during the pandemic remains a clear and present threat,” said Attorney General Bonta. “In fact, reported hate crime has reached a level we haven’t seen in California since the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11. As our state’s top law enforcement officer, I will continue to use the full authority of my office to fight back. We will keep working with our local law enforcement partners and community organizations to make sure every Californian feels seen, heard, and protected. While there is no single solution, it’s up to all of us to heed the call, because when our communities feel empowered, they come forward. Now, more than ever, it is critical that we stand united — there is no place for hate in California.”
Hate crimes are defined by California as a criminal act committed because of a victim’s actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or association with someone with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.
In the Legislature, Assemblymember Haney has co-authored two main bills sponsored by the Stop AAPI Hate coalition: 1) the Public Transit Ridership Safety bill (SB 1161) introduced by State Senator Min that will work to address harassment on public transportation. Transit agency staff will now be trained on how to legally respond to incidents of harassment—including hate crimes—that take place on our streets, buses, and mass transit; and 2) Expanding Civil Rights Protections at Businesses (AB 2448) introduced by Assemblymember Ting, which requires large businesses to train their employees on how to protect, report, and respond to hate crimes for the safety of their customers.
“It’s going to take all of our workers, coming together to stop the rise in Asian hate crimes,” said Haney. “Every employee needs to be hyper aware and ready to take action the moment they see a member of this community being threatened or harassed. San Francisco has a duty to protect all its citizens.”
At the statewide level, Attorney General Bonta has issued a series of reports, guidance, and resources to help the public and law enforcement better understand and address hate crimes in California. Attorney General Bonta has also been convening local law enforcement, elected leaders, and community organizations across the state to help increase awareness and strengthen responses to hate crimes in California. In addition, on Tuesday, the Attorney General announced the creation of a statewide hate crime coordinator position within the California Department of Justice’s Criminal Law Division in order to further assist state and local law enforcement efforts to combat hate crime.
“The report from Attorney General Bonta confirms what so many of us already know and experience -that hate and bigotry against Asian Americans and other communities of color is a real and pressing problem requiring a whole of society approach that addresses the roots and manifestations of inequity,” said Vincent Pan, Co-Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, and a representative of Stop AAPI Hate.
“I’m here today to let the Asian community know that we’re ready to take action,” said Honey Mahogany, the Chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party. “When I see videos of seniors attacked in the street—I see my Aunties, my grandma. When I hear about women harassed on public transit—those are my sisters. I was born and raised here in San Francisco, and this is not how we do things. If you attack our aunties and our grandmothers on the streets…we’re taking action and you’ll face the full consequences of the law.”
Assemblymember Haney is committed to funding initiatives to address hate crimes in California. As budget negotiations continue in the state legislature, he will advocate for the $30 million budget request from the Stop AAPI Hate coalition to fully implement the Public Transit Ridership Safety bill.
Additional information and resources to help combat hate crime is available on the California Department of Justice's website at https://oag.ca.gov/hatecrimes.