Civil Rights Groups Ask for Comprehensive Review of Law Enforcement Efforts on Hate Crimes

Citing escalating hate crimes by both organized hate groups and individuals, Equality California joined eight other major civil rights organizations to call on the California Legislature to order a comprehensive evaluation of law enforcement agencies’ efforts to protect Californians from hate crimes.

The civil rights groups support a request by Assemblymember Kansen Chu (D-San José), the chair of the new Assembly Select Committee on Hate Crimes.

“Hate crimes against LGBTQ people were already rising even before the hostile rhetoric of the 2016 election campaign and Trump’s presidency,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “It’s more important now than ever to have an accurate assessment of who’s being targeted by hate crimes, how many are occurring and how well California’s laws designed to combat hate crimes are working.”

The joint statement by nine civil rights organizations including Equality California reads in part: Hate crimes often have much more grievous consequences for individual victims and for society than similar crimes committed for other reasons. They can terrorize entire communities. They can inflict longer-lasting trauma on individual victims. They can undermine confidence in the criminal justice system. And if left unaddressed, they can spark retaliatory hate crimes against other innocent victims, escalating cycles of hate and violence.

“California has made impressive progress in combating hate crimes since enactment of Senator Kuehl’s comprehensive bill in 2004, but we believe that more needs to be done.

“The recent surge in hate crimes, which new U.S. Department of Justice statistics suggest is continuing to increase, makes a comprehensive examination such as this particularly urgent now,” the statement added.

The review, formally called an audit, would consist of a survey of all local and state law enforcement agencies and a deep-dive evaluation of selected state and local agencies.

The civil rights groups asking for the audit are Equality California and:

The Anti-Defamation League

The Arc & United Cerebral Palsy California Collaboration

The California Association of Human Relations Organizations

The California Council of Churches IMPACT

The California/Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP

The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, CSU San Bernardino

The Council on American Islamic Relations-CA

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund