OC: Act Against Hate Briefing, Collaboration
By Dianne Anderson
At the rate hate is going, the heated political divide, the intensity of racialized hate has many activists and advocates nervous about how that might show up in the hate crime data five years from now.
The Orange County Human Relations Commission does not want to leave it to chance.
Every two years, they release their hate crime report, which was already alarming when COVID hit, but their last 2021 Hate Crime Report shows how steady the increase in Orange County, a 424% increase compared to 10 years ago, and a 165% increase compared to five years ago.
During that time, there was a 525% increase in anti-Black hate incidents.
Norma Lopez said the spike is striking. The county also came in higher overall compared to the state. The Department of Justice indicated a 61% rise in the state, but Orange County saw a 73% rise in hate crimes over the past five years. The commission receives voluntary reports from victims, from law enforcement, schools and other CBOS that serve as a point of contact for victims of hate.
“When we saw this trend, we realized this is just a drop in the bucket of what we’re sure is happening in our communities. It’s not being reported because folks are afraid, and because folks don’t trust law enforcement, afraid of reprisals, or don’t know this activity is reportable,” said Lopez, OC Human Relations Commission Executive Director.
Their 2021 report found that hate crimes were mainly motivated by the victim’s race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, and, or, religion. In over half of hate crimes where the race or ethnicity of the victim was known and reported, 56% identified as Black, indigenous, person of color (BIPOC).
Orange County is huge, and she said hate is rising across the board and the nation. She feels that communities of color and advocates must unite to fight hate because there is power in numbers.
“For communities being targeted, we have to get over our fear of reporting and telling our stories. We need to look past our prejudices of people of other communities to recognize that if we don’t try to find the solutions together, we’re going to continue to hit the same wall,” she said.
Last year, they launched “Hate Hurts Us All,” and partnered with local 211 to create a new platform for victims to report hate crimes in seven languages, and through email or text. She said it’s best to file a police report, which is filed as a crime, but then identified as a hate crime. The process helps with navigating and accessing more resources.
Efforts are also underway to connect with churches, small community-based organizations that help get the word out, and smaller efforts in the Black, Brown, API, and LGBTQ communities.
“There’s so much more we could be doing, but we started small and hoping that the Board Of Supervisors can approve another budget to allow us to continue to do that and leverage more of the ethnic media assets,” she said.
The commission has been its own advocate, she said, and they also serve on the advisory to the county Board of Supervisors.
Among their projects, the OC Human Relations Commission has provided prevention work in schools, established Diversity Equity and Inclusion department training and workshops. They address dispute resolutions, and hosted a hate prevention network.
Their network is about 30 different community based organizations, some federal, state and local entities teaming up to build prevention strategies, including colleges, and the interfaith community.
“We all understand there is a rise and we understand that if we don’t temper it, it can become so much bigger and overwhelming,” she said.
In recent years, the state of California reached its highest levels since 2001, jumping almost 33% from 2020 to 2021, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office. Earlier this month, Newsom announced the CA vs Hate statewide hotline. Californians can visit CAvsHate.org or call 833-8-NO-HATE for resources and to report acts of hate.
Newsom said they are sending an unequivocal message that hate will not be tolerated.
“We stand firm for a California for All and it is important that we hold perpetrators accountable for their actions and provide resources for those individuals victimized by hate crimes,” he stated. “Now, Californians have another tool to ensure that not only justice is served, but that individuals have access to additional resources to help deal with the lingering wounds that remain after such a horrendous crime occurs.”
Last week in an “ACT Against Hate Alliance” briefing, global leaders came together to talk strategies and collaboration. The alliance is an initiative co-founded by Sen. Bob Huff and his wife, Mei Mei Huff last year to root out the causes of hate, and address solutions.
Fiona Ma, California State Treasurer, spoke of the importance of diligently dealing with hate crime, but also knowing the crimes and perpetrators. She said more support is needed to fund mental health and depression post-COVID.
“We need to continue to send the message of love, unity and support and positive aspects of our diversity, and I like to say that in California, when one group is impacted we do stand up and rally together, whether Black Lives Matter, Stop Asian Hate, whether it’s the latest attack in the LGBTQ community. We do stand up here in the state of California,” Ma said.
Prof. Maria Daniella Marouda, chair of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, addressed racialism and anti-Muslim racism. She spoke about the impact where she resides in Greece of the Black Lives Matter movement in America.
“[It] actually affected us a lot. We started suddenly discussing colonialism and how this fits into certain places because of Black Lives Matter and George Floyd,” she said. “We have established quite a strong statement on how important it is to address racism from this abuse, including racial profiling and systemic racism in Europe, in education, history.”
Dennis Santiago, chief operating officer of the National Diversity Coalition based in Los Angeles, focused on anti-Asian hate, and said they reach the community through a network of media spanning multiple racial groups.
But, he said more needs to be done in breaking down the barriers.
“One of the things we do know about the United States culture, is that everybody by and large wants to see good things happen. The trouble is that the definition of a good thing for one person in the United States can often be very very different than the definition of a good thing for another person in the United States. And, they can live right next door to each other, and that can cause problems.”
For more information on OC Human Relations Commission,
This news story was supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library.