AG Rob Bonta launches roundtable discussions on hate crimes across CA

California Attorney General Rob Bonta, joined by San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Bay Area leaders, on Thursday, Sept. 9 kicked off a series of roundtable discussions on how to better address hate crimes across the state. | Photo courtesy of the Office of Attorney General Bonta

IN an effort to address hate crimes in California, Filipino American Attorney General Rob Bonta has kicked off a series of roundtable discussions aimed at looking for better ways to prevent such incidents across the state.

Outside the Visitacion Valley Branch Library in San Francisco, Bonta joined San Francisco Mayor London Breed and community leaders to share the landscape of hate crimes in California and highlight the importance of the roundtable discussions.

“No community is immune,” Bonta noted Thursday, September 9. “Our conversation today was a good reminder that we’re all in this together, that we’re gonna move forward together or not at all.”

“And we can move forward when we have conversation, when we listen, when we communicate as we just did,” he added.

According to Bonta, his office recorded a 31% increase in hate crimes in 2020 — a statistic that he described as “alarming and shocking.”

“And right here in San Francisco, home to the LGBTQ rights movement, anti-gay hate crimes accounted for over 25% of all hate crimes in the last decade,” he added.

Bonta assured that Thursday’s meeting opened discussions on addressing intergenerational trauma, as well as providing linguistically and culturally competent services, victim-centered solutions and racial healing circles.

“There’s no panacea, there’s no cure-all. But there are many ways to make progress,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, Breed said that finding the root cause and solutions will require “continuous work and continuous conversations of sharing of ideas” proactively, even when something isn’t happening.

“To address hate crimes at their core, we need buy-in from local communities, support from law enforcement, and a commitment from all levels of government here in San Francisco,” she added.

Breed also pointed out that San Francisco has implemented different initiatives to prevent future hate crimes such as the expansion of the Street Violence Intervention Program.

“Part of this expansion includes patrolling neighborhoods in the city in response to hate crimes against our Asian community. Another part of the program provides seniors with escorts to go with them while buying groceries and seeing doctors. So they can feel safe when running their errands,” she said.

“Our goals with these two programs are to build the trust of our diverse communities and increase public safety for everyone in San Francisco,” she added.

For her part, Sarah Wan, executive director of San Francisco non-profit Community Youth Center, said she felt “hopeful” about Thursday’s roundtable discussion.

“We did talk about the challenges that we are facing, including under-reporting language barriers, victim services, and the lack of cultural competency services across the board to support our victims,” she said.

“But we also talked about how important it is to really have violence prevention strategies. How we want to make sure that we don’t only respond when there’s a crisis, but how we can stay vigilant and stand together across the board, so that we don’t always have to rely on GoFundMe…when tragedy happens,” she added.

Bonta maintained that hate and prejudice “will not be tolerated” in California.

“There is no place for hate in California or anywhere anytime. And across our different cultures and identities today, we came together to affirm this fundamental truth,” he said.

He added, “Across our differences we are united in making sure that our neighborhoods and our city are safe, healthy, and prosperous for all. Nothing is more important.” (AJPress)

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