Americas Community

Bonta says hate crimes up in California, rues low convictions

By Cesar Antonio Nucum Jr
FRESNO – Hate crimes are increasing but convictions are slow.
This surfaced at a forum organized by a community newspaper and a coalition of community groups working to Stop the Hate which had for its keynote speaker California Attorney General Rob Bonta.
At the United Against Hate forum at Fresno City College of the Community Alliance newspaper and a coalition of community groups working to Stop the Hate,Bonta said “the community involvement and local support of cities across California aids in better understanding awareness of the issue to identify best practices to eliminate the staggering rise of hate and extremism.”
 The coalitiion has over the last two years held Town Halls, conducted intervention training and shared with the community the most effective way to report hate crimes and incidents.Although an increasing number of hate crimes are being reported in California,  Bonta said in an interview that convictions continue to remain low since “hate crimes are notoriously difficult to prosecute for they require a proof of intent and, by design, a hate crime must originate with the hate element, which is often difficult to establish.”“Hate crimes are an augmentation of sentencing: it is seen as something additional. You’re already charging assault or battery,” explained Bonta. “A successful hate crime conviction might add two to five years to a sentence and I urge victims of a hate crime to gather up as much evidence as possible and to get details.”Bonta’s office has released a report that of the over 2,100 hate crimes reported in the state, only 52 resulted in hate crime convictions. 
The majority of hate crimes reported never made it to court: just 456 cases were filed by district attorneys and elected city attorneys, according to the report.At the summit, Bonta said hate was not a new phenomenon since “it’s been with us since time immemorial.”“We need to take care of each other, look after one another, and be committed to the proposition that hate against any one of us is hate against all of us, and it’s unacceptable,” Bonta stressed.
He said he feared for his mother Cynthia, amid the rise of violent hate attacks targeting AAPI elderly people.The Attorney General tacitly referred to the rise in hate crimes over the past seven months targeting both Jewish Americans and Arab Americans, brought on by the Israel-Hamas war. “The awful, unacceptable deaths of children and civilians that we’re seeing in Palestine and in Israel are unacceptable. And they’re affecting us here.”Bonta also indirectly addressed Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has used very divisive rhetoric on the campaign trail. The candidate has repeatedly claimed that “immigrants are poisoning the blood of America,” and has promised to reinstate his “Muslim ban.”“We have leaders who use the most toxic, xenophobic language. They give license to others,” rued Bonta who also underscored that “one of the hallmarks of a democracy is the peaceful transfer of power.”
“You cannot claim victory when you win, and malfeasance when you don’t” referring to the predicted chaos expected to ensue if Trump does not win,” he said.  For his part, executive director of the Community Alliance Mike Rhodes, told Ethnic Media Service that Fresno and neighboring cities were rife with hate activity, much of which is unreported.“A lot of people here don’t trust the police,” admitted Rhodes, adding that when hate crimes and incidents are reported, they often go unnoticed. The Fresno Police Department did set up an information table at the event.The Alliance passed Stop the Hate Resolution! that pledged to “stand up to all forms of hate, racism, bigotry, and bullying and will not stay silent in the face of intolerance based on race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, religion, ability, country of origin, immigration status or any other factor and that will work together with our community to create safer and more inclusive communities for all.”The resolution also  mentioned promises, including measures, to:

  1. Learn about what counts as a hate crime;
  2. Educate our families and friends to recognize hate crime, support the targeted person and report to the police or an appropriate third-party organization;
  3. Train our staff in hate crime awareness and recognition and create a safe and all- inclusive environment that supports equality, and good relations within and outside the workplace;
  4. Ensure that our policy procedures are effective in addressing hate crime incidents that may occur in the workplace either between employees, or against staff members or the public;
  5. Support and create activities in the community and workplace that promote diversity, inclusion, kindness, and good relationships; and.
  6. Help display visual materials in public areas disapproving all forms of hate in our communities and share this information with others through leaflets, posters, and social media posts, among others.