California Establishes Commission To Monitor, Track Hate Crimes
October 21, 2021
California has approved new legislation to address the growing epidemic of hate crimes and incidents in the state.
The new bill, AB 1126, establishes the first statewide commission to monitor and track hate crimes and recommend policy to the state leaders and legislators. It was signed in law by Governor Gavin Newsom last week.
The Commission on the State of Hate is “a necessary step towards understanding who is perpetrating these crimes, who is being targeted, and how we can develop policy solutions,” said Assembly member Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), author of the new bill. “AB 1126 will elevate the voices and testimony of hate crime survivors and give us important information that statistics can’t always provide.”
Over 7,700 hate crime “incidents” were reported in 2019 in the United States, the highest total in over a decade, according to CSU San Bernardino’s report on hate and extremism. In 2020, anti-Asian hate crimes surged by 149% and hate crimes against gay men jumped nearly 30%, the report also noted.
Locally, the Los Angeles Police Department has reported a 66% increase in hate crimes overall in the first 9 months of 2021 and a 26% increase in hate crimes based on sexual orientation.
“The staggering statistics make it clear: California needs better tools and dedicated individuals to help us track and report this information,” said Bloom.
Criminal justice experts said the challenges of monitoring and collecting data on hate crimes and other types of targeted violence have led to severe underreporting.
“The FBI relies on the voluntary reporting of more than 15,000 participating law enforcement agencies across the country,” said Brian Levin, professor of Criminal Justice and Director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at CSU San Bernardino. “Last year, 86% of them did not report a single hate crime, including at least 71 cities with populations over 100,000.”
Testifying before state legislators, Levin said, “it’s imperative that California empower an expert State of Hate Commission to more rapidly analyze the emerging threats to the residents and institutions because hate crimes and related targeted violence are both rising and diversifying.”
Bloom noted the Commission will assess “current trends relative to hate crimes, produce annual reports on these trends, and make policy recommendations in order to help the state better address and, hopefully, reduce instances of these crimes.”
The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2022.