Legislation to address the growing epidemic of hate crimes passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday afternoon. The bill, AB 1126, authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D – Santa Monica), would established the first statewide commission in California to not only accurately monitor and track hate crimes and incidents, but to formally recommend policy to the Governor and State Legislature.
According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism’s 2020 Report to the Nation, hate crime totals for 2019 hit their highest level in over a decade with over 7,000 hate “incidents” reported. In 2020, anti-Asian hate crimes surged by 149% and hate crimes against gay men jumped nearly 30%. Already in 2021, the Los Angeles Police Department has reported a 66% increase in hate crimes overall and a 26% increase in hate crimes based on sexual orientation. Black people remain the number one target for hate crimes in America, at twice the level they represent in the population.
“Due to the staggering statistics and challenges of monitoring, collecting, and analyzing this data, it is clear that California needs better tools and dedicated individuals to help us track and report this information,” said Assemblymember Bloom. “The Commission on the State of Hate will monitor and 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 FBI relies on the voluntary reporting of more than 15,000 participating law enforcement agencies across the country. Last year, 86% of them did not report a single hate crime, including at least 71 cities with populations over 100,000, according to the Anti-Defamation League and the Sikh Coalition. Bloom continued, “The Commission is necessary in order to fully understand who is perpetrating these crimes, who is being targeted, and how we can develop policy solutions to address and reduce the instances of these crimes.”
The bill, which is supported by groups such as the Anti-Defamation League, Equality California, and Islamic Networks Group (ING), now heads to the Senate Committee on Appropriations.