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Black Californians remain top hate crime victims, report says 

By Edward Henderson 

Contributing Writer

SACRAMENTO — Anti-Black bias incidents continue to be the most prevalent in the state, according to the 2023 Hate Crime in California Report that was released June 29.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta reported that overall hate crime events in California decreased by 7.1% from 2,120 in 2022 to 1,970 in 2023, but Blacks were the reported victims of hate incidents 518 times, 26.3% of all reported incidents. The next highest reporting of bias events was 199 anti-Latino incidents.

“The California Department of Justice has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to hate, and will continue working with law enforcement, elected leaders, and community organizations across the state to keep our communities safe through education, prevention and enforcement,” Bonta said in a statement after releasing the report. “We won’t let bigots and bad actors win. We will not let hate prevail.”

The report also found that prosecutions increased by 5%.

According to the report, , the number of hate crimes referred for prosecution increased from 647 in 2022 to 679 in 2023. Of the 679 hate crimes that were referred for prosecution, 463 cases were filed by district attorneys and elected city attorneys for prosecution. Of the 463 cases that were filed for prosecution, 322 were filed as hate crimes and 141 were filed as non-bias motivated crimes.

Under California law, a hate crime is a criminal act committed in whole or in part because of a victim’s actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or association with someone with one or more of these characteristics.

Responding to a surge in hate crimes and hate incidents, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration launched the “California vs. Hate” initiative, which includes a hotline and online reporting platform for victims.

“CA vs Hate is about recognizing and protecting the incredible diversity of our state and sending a clear message that hate will never be tolerated,” Newsom said.

“When California was confronted by an alarming increase in hate, we didn’t just sit back and hope it got better,” said Kevin Kish, director of the state’s Civil Rights Department. “We came together and launched an array of nation-leading programs to ensure all our communities feel welcome and protected. I’m incredibly proud of our state’s resilience and commitment to a California for all.

“This work is only just beginning, but it would not be possible without the advocacy of our community partners and the foresight of our state’s administration and Legislature,” Kish added.

To combat hate crime offenses and events, Bonta urges local partners and law enforcement to review the resources highlighted in the report and to recommit themselves to leveraging them.

“Everyone has a part to play as we continue to fight prejudice and create safer communities in California,” Bonta said. “I urge everyone to review the data and resources available and recommit to standing united against hate.

Edward Henderson is a reporter for California Black Media.

       
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