SACRAMENTO – Legislation to address the growing epidemic of hate crimes and incidents was signed by Governor Newsom late yesterday. The bill, AB 1126, authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), would establish the first statewide commission to monitor and track hate crimes and recommend policy to the Governor, State Legislature, and State Agencies.
According to CSU San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism 2020 Report to the Nation, hate crime totals for 2019 hit their highest level in over a decade with over 7,000 hate “incidents” reported. In 2020, anti-Asian hate crimes surged by 149% and hate crimes against gay men jumped nearly 30%. Already in 2021, the Los Angeles Police Department has reported a 66% increase in hate crimes overall and a 26% increase in hate crimes based on sexual orientation. Black people remain the number one target for hate crimes in America, at twice the level they represent in the population.
“The staggering statistics make it clear: California needs better tools and dedicated individuals to help us track and report this information,” said Assemblymember Bloom.
Additionally, the challenges of monitoring and collecting data on hate crimes and other types of targeted violence have led to severe underreporting. “The FBI relies on the voluntary reporting of more than 15,000 participating law enforcement agencies across the country,” said Professor of Criminal Justice and Director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism Brian Levin. “Last year, 86% of them did not report a single hate crime, including at least 71 cities with populations over 100,000. We must do better,” Professor Levin continued, “Because hate crimes and related targeted violence are both rising and diversifying, it’s imperative that California empower an expert State of Hate Commission to more rapidly analyze the emerging threats to the residents and institutions of our State.”
The Commission on the State of Hate will monitor and assess current trends relative to hate crimes, produce annual reports on these trends, and make policy recommendations in order to help the State better address, and, hopefully, reduce instances of these crimes.
“The Commission is a necessary step towards understanding who is perpetrating these crimes, who is being targeted, and how we can develop policy solutions. Furthermore, AB 1126 will elevate the voices and testimony of hate crime survivors and give us important information that statistics can’t always provide,” added Assemblymember Bloom, “The bill received broad bi-partisan support and I am grateful to Governor Newsom for signing this critical piece of legislation.”
Taking effect on January 1, 2022, AB 1126 has enjoyed a broad base of support from groups including: American Jewish Committee – Los Angeles, Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region, Anti-Defamation League, Asian Law Alliance, California Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism – CSU, San Bernardino, City of West Hollywood, Courage California, Equality California, Feminist Majority, Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist of America, Inc., Holocaust Museum LA, Iranian American Jewish Federation, Islamic Networks Inc., Israeli-American Civic Action Network, Jewish Public Affairs Committee, Jews United for Democracy & Justice, Muslim Public Affairs Council, National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter, Network Contagion Research Institute, Orange County Human Relations Council, Pathpoint, Sacramento Jewish Community Relations Council, Sikh Coalition, Simon Weisenthal Center, Inc., The Arc and United Cerebral Palsy California Collaboration, The Unique Women’s Coalition, Council on American-Islamic Relations, and more.