EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is part of an ongoing CALÓ NEWS series on the state of hate in LA and California. If you are an expert on the subject, a victim, an activist, or community leader, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. To follow the series, click here.
A new report released in June by the office of California’s attorney general, Rob Bonta and the California Department of Justice shows that hate crimes in the state continue to be on the rise. In 2021, there were 1,763 hate crimes reported in California; in 2022, there were 2,120, making this a 20% surge in hate crimes reported in the Golden State.
Bonta announced the data during a news conference in Los Angeles, a place where the highest number of hate crimes were recorded. Los Angeles County originated 857 hate crimes, including 609 in the city of Los Angeles. There were 110 hate crimes reported in Orange County, 105 in San Diego County, and 41 in Riverside County, according to the report. Overall, the number of such events has risen by 145.7% since 2013.
The updated numbers regarding hate, drive the state’s urgency and commitment to combat and put an end to hate incidents and crimes. One of the state’s latest efforts comes in the form of CA vs Hate, a new multilingual statewide hotline and online portal that provides a safe, anonymous reporting option for victims and witnesses of hate acts.
A free hotline to report hate
The goals of California vs Hate, as stated on the official website, are to support individuals and communities targeted for hate, identify options for next steps after an act of hate, connect people targeted for hate with resources and care coordination services, improve hate incident and crime reporting data to enhance prevention and response.
One of California vs Hate’s main components is its free hotline. Californians can call 1- 833-866-4283 (1-833-8-NO-HATE) and receive support services. California vs Hate care coordinators, are on duty Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.to 6 p.m. California vs Hate is not affiliated with law enforcement, and hate crime victims can also report anonymously.
The hotline hopes to address and tackle the issue of underreporting that is tied to hate crimes and incidents in the state.
CA vs Hate, which is led by the California Civil Rights Department, was officially launched earlier in May, but its origins stem from 2021, when the Department of Justice created the Hate Crime Vertical Prosecution Pilot Grant Program (HCVP), which led to the state legislature authorizing and granting funding to the California Civil Rights Department to establish the CA vs. Hate Resource Line and Network.
Anti- Hispanic/Latino crimes increased
Anti-Hispanic hate crimes also rose from 197 in 2021 to 210 in 2022. Knowing that different communities are being targeted by hate, the California Civil Rights Department and Governor Gavin Newsom announced last month the launch of the first statewide multilingual ad campaign to increase awareness of California vs Hate.
The new campaign includes print, radio and digital ads across the state that will be available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Korean and Hmong in more than 30 different outlets. He also sent a letter to all public school leaders in California, highlighting the legal responsibilities to ensure ethnic studies curricula are appropriate and do not reflect or promote bias, bigotry, or discrimination.
“As hate-fueled rhetoric drives increasing acts of bigotry and violence, California is taking action to protect those who are targeted just for being who they are,” Newsom said in a press release. “We’re bolstering our support for victims and anti-hate programs and tackling ignorance and intolerance through education to prevent hate from taking hold in our communities.”
CA vs Hate initiatives
In May, the first month that CA vs Hate was officially operational, the hotline was contacted by hundreds of individuals through the hotline and online. CA vs Hate received 180 reports of hate acts across California. Of those reports, 102 were made over the phone and 78 were made via the online portal. In addition, almost half of all individuals who reported an act of hate accepted care coordination services, including direct and ongoing support accessing legal aid or counseling.
Becky L. Monroe, the Deputy Director of Strategic Initiatives and External Affairs and the CA Civil Rights Department, is one of the people leading the effort in CA vs Hate. Monroe believes California vs Hate personnel and organizers have learned a lot from other cities that also provide hate crime support via hotlines like LA vs Hate, a community-centered system designed to support all residents and communities targeted for hate acts of all kinds in Los Angeles County.
Monroe’s commitment to combating hate and promoting inclusivity began many years ago. Before joining the Civil Rights Department, Monroe worked for the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Associate Attorney General, as a Consultant – Senior Advisor. Before this consultancy, Monroe was the Senior Director of the Fighting Hate and Bias Program at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. She was Director and Distinguished Practitioner in Residence for the Divided Community Project at the Ohio State University College of Law from 2019 to 2020. Monroe was also Director of the Stop Hate Project at The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law from 2017 to 2018.
CALÒ NEWS spoke to Monroe about hate crime prevention, reporting, CA vs Hate services and the effects hate crimes have among the Latino community.
Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Becky L. Monroe, Deputy Director of Strategic Initiatives and External Affairs and the CA Civil Rights Department, Sacramento, she/her, American
WHAT IS THE CIVIL RIGHTS DEPARTMENT?
The Civil Rights Department: we are the state’s civil rights agency. So we help to protect and enforce civil rights and across many different laws, including, for example, with respect to fair employment and housing, public accommodations. We also helped protect people from hate violence with respect to civil claims and civil claims around human trafficking. The Civil Rights Department at large, is really our state’s agency to make sure we are enforcing civil rights protections for all Californians.
WHAT WORK IS THE CIVIL RIGHTS DEPARTMENT DOING, SPECIFICALLY WHEN IT COMES TO HATE CRIME?
We had a official launch in May of this year—California versus Hate, a resource line and network that, for the first time in our state, helps us support people statewide to help individuals and communities who may be too targeted for hate. We are housed in the state’s agency to protect civil rights. And I think that’s important, because we recognize that when we’re talking about hate incidents and hate crimes, we are talking about acts that happen in a broader context. In other words, civil rights enforcement, whether it’s someone with respect to their employment rights, or their housing rights, or when they go into a place of business, making sure that we enforce those civil rights is really important to the broader context of combating hate. Hate crimes and hate incidents don’t happen in a vacuum. They may be more likely to happen when we do not have vigorous enforcement of civil rights across the board.
WHAT IS CA VS HATE AND WHAT SERVICES DOES IT OFFER?
California vs Hate is the first statewide anti-hate hotline. We have three main goals. Our first is to make sure we let people know their options, if they’re targeted for hate. One of the things we talk a lot about, you don’t have to be a legal expert to report to us. You may think you are targeted for hate; an act of hate, that was a crime. Perhaps an act of hate doesn’t rise to the level of a crime that violates your civil rights, or maybe even an act of hate that doesn’t currently violate the law, but constitutes active discrimination. Anyone can call if they’ve been targeted in any of these circumstances. People can also report online to CAvsHAte.org. If you’ve been targeted for hate, you have different options. And we want Californians across the state to know what those options are. Some people want help going to law enforcement. And we can do that. But others don’t feel safe about law enforcement and if they don’t, we can give them other options that may involve pursuing civil relief – meaning connecting them with legal services attorneys, or potentially filing a claim with the Civil Rights Department around civil claims for hate violence. Sometimes people want to connect with mental health resources and support. Sometimes people need help navigating how to access potential economic benefits.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE RESOURCES THAT ARE CULTURALLY RELEVANT TO PEOPLE OF COLOR LIKE LATINOS? WHAT ARE SISTER AGENCY ORGANIZATIONS?
We want to make sure people are connected with culturally competent resources and support. This is where our relationships with community based organizations across the state are critical. For example, we are partnering with CHIRLA, as well as with TODEC, and other organizations that have extensive experience working with people who are often targeted for discrimination. When we’re connecting people with those resources, they want access to free mental health services or low cost mental health services; others may be looking for legal services to support some civil claims. We’re not just giving people a bunch of a list of resources, for example, and saying, “Good luck!” If they request it, we will provide what we call a care coordinator, who is trained in trauma informed practices and can help you navigate what your options may be.
HOW IS CA VS HATE TACKLING UNDERREPORTING OF HATE CRIMES?
Yes, we know the current data reflects under reporting. We know there are a lot of reasons for underreporting. There is some fear in reporting and so that’s partly why we try to make it as accessible as possible. People can call us and we can speak in over 200 different languages. They can call through our CA, 8338-NO HATE number. If they go online, they can submit in 15 languages currently and again, we can always follow up and multiple other languages. People can call regardless of immigration status. We do not have to take someone’s name down if they aren’t comfortable with that. We will keep information confidential. We are really trying to reduce those barriers to reporting to make the data a little bit more accurate. And the only reason we want that data more accurate is that we want to use that data to better directly sources to support people who are targeted for hate.
LATINOS ARE ONE OF THE GROUPS MOST HEAVILY TARGETED; WHAT IS CA VS HATE DOING ABOUT THIS?
Latinos in our state have seen an increase in acts of hate, at least in terms of the data that we do have. And as I mentioned, we know that that is under reported. So for example, if you look at the data from our colleagues at the California Attorney General’s Office, the most recent 2022 data, the category they use, under the report that they provide us with anti Hispanic bias, and those crimes did rise from 2021 to 2022. We know that there’s fear sometimes in reporting because of fear for some communities of immigration consequences. We know that there may be fear of additional discrimination if they do report to a government agency. We have really developed our outreach to address those concerns. One thing we do is, as I mentioned, we are partnering specifically with community based organizations that have earned the trust of the Latino community across our state. That means some people may never feel safe coming to a government agency, and we understand that and respect that we have to earn that trust. So until they do that, we will continue to serve the needs of community based organizations, they can often serve as a critical bridge between communities that may fear reporting, or may not feel safe and income bases provide resources and support.
The other is we’re really proud that we have a new ad campaign that’s currently underway. We have launched a new campaign, it’s through video, print digital ads, they’re available in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese, multiple other languages. We have outlets that are expressly Spanish language outlets that we have dedicated to getting those ads into. So we really tried to identify the outlets that we think will help to reach the Latino community across our state. We’re hopeful that both by lowering the sort of barriers to reporting that may have historically existed, and doing specific outreach in Spanish, and other languages, we’re sending the message that CA vs Hate is here to serve the Latino community in the same way that we’re here to serve all communities that are targeted.
WHAT IS THE CIVIL RIGHTS DEPARTMENT COMMISSION ON STATE OF HATE AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Commission includes a nine-member statewide commission and it was appointed by the governor, the speaker of the assembly of the senate committee on rules and the Commission. We have identified three main goals. One is to develop a rigorous and comprehensive accounting of hate activity in California. Two is to host community forums on the state of hate in California. And we used to provide resources and guidance to communities and government officials on how to effectively reduce and respond to hate activity. The commission is committed to using the input we get, whether it’s from community experts, or leaders, as you mentioned, that are members of the commission, but also the people we bring in who are experts, and the community who has an opportunity to say directly to people have the ability to weigh in and to provide recommendations about how to enhance their response to hate. This is an opportunity to directly engage those folks and say, “this is what we need to see more of, this is what’s working and this is what’s not working,”
The commission, having an efficient house in the CRD really demonstrates the comprehensive approach to hate that we are taking in our state. The community conflict resolution team is a separate team that is here at the Civil Rights department. That team is a different approach to combating hate. They are brought into action when there are communities that are experiencing fear or tension associated with. Sometimes hate incidents or hate crimes or acts of discrimination. So often we see when there has been a hate incident or a hate crime, it really does terrify an entire community and terrorize the community. What this group can do is work with the community leaders directly, work with the parties, and work with the local government, to identify what the conflict may be. Sometimes, in the aftermath of the hate crime there, maybe there’s clearly fear about what happened, there maybe also some frustration and confusion about what law enforcement is doing or it’s not doing. One of the things that the crew team can do is to help to address those concerns that help to bring out the conflict and tension around that. The team can also help communities sort of structure forums and structure input from community members to make sure that the voices of people who are most impacted by hate are actually heard.
HOW DID CA VS HATE FIRST COME INTO CONVERSATIONS? HOW DID THE CRD KNOW WE NEEDED A STATE -WIDE NETWORK FOR HATE?
We received our initial funding from the state legislature and it was a part of a larger API equity agenda. The leaders and the community based organizations who are pushing for this as part of the API equity agenda, insisted that the resource line be open to all. There was a very deep recognition by advocates as well as legislators that were really talking about combating hate that by necessity must make it intersectional. I think that is sort of where we first saw the funding. In terms of a model that we use, we are so fortunate to have LA vs Hate in our space. They serve as sort of an extraordinary model for us in terms of both identifying how you help people target for hate outside the context of law enforcement. We learned so much from Robin Toma and Terri Villa-McDowel, and the folks who helped to build it there. There’s no state of our size doing this but we learned so much from some of our colleagues, for example, in Oregon and other places that had started something similar a few years back. Now that we’ve done this (CA vs HATE)we’re now hearing from other states that are interested in doing something similar as well.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO REPORT HATE? WHY SHOULD THE COMMUNITY TRUST CS VS HATE WHEN IT COMES TO HATE CRIMES?
Our main message is, if you report you will get support. We want people to know that if they report an act of hate to us, whether it’s a crime or an incident or another act of discrimination, we will find a way to make sure that you get support. We know that many communities are feeling under attack right now and there’s a growing sense of fear. Although hate is not new in our community, neither is coming together. I would just encourage people, please do report, if you are not certain you can still call we will get support. If you know anyone who’s comfortable reporting directly to us, if they go to a nonprofit, the nonprofit or community based organization can also report to us that way. We pledge to do everything we can to make sure that people get access to the resources and support that they need.
NOTE: CALÓ NEWS is committed to reporting on hate crimes related to Latinos, from victims to perpetrators to change makers. If you or your organization would like to share your expertise regarding hate crime prevention in Los Angeles and Southern California, please contact Brenda Fernanda Verano at email@example.com.