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Legislative Measure Would Significantly Strengthen Hate Crime Protections

Earlier this month, the California Legislature passed legislation to significantly strengthen California’s response to the recent surge in hate crimes and hate-motivated violence. Authored by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills), Chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, Assembly Bill (AB) 57 would implement specific recommendations from the State Auditor to enable law enforcement to better prevent, respond to, and document hate crimes. The measure passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in both the State Assembly and the State Senate.

“The recent violence against the Asian American and Jewish communities is unacceptable and demands a firm response from every level of government,” said Assemblymember Gabriel. “At this moment, when so many in our state are feeling vulnerable, we must do more to protect those who are targeted by hate. Our legislation will significantly strengthen law enforcement training and coordination to ensure that California is better prepared to address hate crimes and protect vulnerable communities.”

The passage of AB 57 follows a year marked by a dramatic increase in hate-motivated violence in the U.S., which has prompted fear and concern in many vulnerable communities, including the Asian Pacific Islander (API) and Jewish communities. Notably, hate crimes targeting Asian Americans in America’s largest cities increased 164 percent in the past year. The Anti-Defamation League has similarly reported a surge of anti-Jewish incidents in recent months, which has included violent attacks in Los Angeles and other major urban areas.

AB 57 is part of a package of bills that aims to address the recent surge in hate crimes and violent extremism throughout the United States. The legislation builds on specific recommendations from the California State Auditor, which found in a 2018 audit that law enforcement agencies in California routinely failed to adequately identify, report, or respond to hate crimes. The audit concluded that inadequate policies and lack of oversight by the California Department of Justice contributed to a systemic under-reporting of hate crimes across the state.

AB 57 is supported by a diverse coalition of prominent civil rights organizations.

“More than 70 percent of Asian Americans in California live in fear of racially motivated violence and hate crimes,” said Richard Konda, Executive Director of the Asian Law Alliance. “Police training and law enforcement agency policies to guide officers are urgently needed to protect us, and all Californians. We thank Assemblyman Gabriel for this step forward.”

“With our long track record of advocacy in Sacramento to address hate crimes, JPAC is proud to support the passage of Assemblymember Gabriel’s Hate Crime Prevention and Reporting Act Bill,” said Allison Gingold, Chair of Jewish Public Affairs Committee (JPAC). “This critical legislation will significantly impact the rise in hate crimes and strengthen our State's response to effectively combat it.”

AB 57 now heads to Governor Newsom’s desk, where it must be signed or vetoed by Oct. 10, 2021.