Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra’s Legislation to Improve Hate Crime Reporting Passes Committee

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Citing an ‘Alarming Spike in Hate Crimes,’ Bocanegra Authors Hate Crime Reporting Bill as an Important Public Safety Tool to Better Protect Communities and Reduce Hate Crimes in California

Sacramento, CA – Today, the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee voted 7-0 to pass Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra’s (D-Pacoima) legislation to improve hate crime reporting, and communication between law enforcement agencies and human relation commissions so they are able to work cooperatively to combat hate crimes and hate incidents.

“We have witnessed an alarming spike in hate crimes in the days and weeks following the presidential election and a double-digit increase in hate crimes reported to California law enforcement in 2015,” said Assemblymember Bocanegra.  “These crimes divide communities, and it is imperative that California send a message that intolerance has no place in our neighborhoods.”

AB 39 would require local law enforcement agencies to forward a hate crime report summary to the human relations commission or an appropriate agency in the respective jurisdictions conclusion of an investigation.  Currently, the California Attorney General’s office publishes a “Hate Crime in California” report annually, which assesses the number of hate crime events, hate crime offenses, hate crime victims, and hate crime suspects.  The measure would instead require law enforcement to immediately notify a municipal human relations commission so they are able to work with communities, organizations and public agencies to develop programs that aim to reduce racism, homophobia anti-immigrant sentiment, or other biases.

Under existing law, local law enforcement agencies are required annually to submit to the California Department of Justice (DOJ) information on hate crimes within their jurisdictions.  The information includes statistics on the number of hate crimes, the types of offenses, the number of suspects and victims, and, to the extent possible, information on the number of cases referred to prosecutors and the disposition of those cases.

According to data compiled by the Department of Justice:

  • Total hate crime incidents increased in California by 10.42% in 2015;
  • Hate crime incidents involving a religious bias increased 49.6% in 2015;
  • Hate crime incidents involving a Hispanic/Latino bias increased 35% in 2015; and,
  • The number of victims of reported hate crime incidents increased 10.39% in 2015.

Last year, just a couple of weeks after the presidential election, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck stated that hate crimes had increased in Los Angeles by 19% in comparison to 2015.  Furthermore, the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonpartisan civil rights organization, issued a report, “Ten Days After,” which demonstrated that in the ten days following the presidential election, 867 post-election hate incidents occurred across the country in comparison to all of 2015.  And the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission reported a 24% uptick in hate crimes for 2015 as well.

“Many people feel unsafe because of a toxic anti-immigrant rhetoric, and the rash of hate crimes that are beginning to plague our communities,” added Assemblymember Bocanegra.  “Any violence, especially rooted in bigotry, will not be tolerated in California, and we must work with our local police and community partners to reduce this disturbing trend.”

Raul Bocanegra is the Democratic Majority Whip in the California State Assembly.  He represents the 39th Assembly District, which includes the Los Angeles communities of Arleta, Granada Hills, Lakeview Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hollywood, Pacoima, Shadow Hills, Sun Valley, Sunland-Tujunga, Sylmar and the City of San Fernando.