In light of an “alarming spike in hate crimes,” which even spooked the OC Human Relations Commission into mounting its #HateFreeOC campaign last month, a state legislator has introduced a bill aimed at listing every hate crime and criminal who perpetrates one for public inspection.
On Thursday, the first day of the 2017-18 Legislative Session in Sacramento, Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D-San Fernando Valley) introduced AB 39 that would establish the California Hate Crimes Registry.
“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,” Bocanegra explained. “These crimes divide communities, and it is imperative that California send a message that intolerance has no place in our communities.”
His proposed registry would work much the same way as registered sex offender databases, with the California Department of Justice maintaining the public tool listing individuals convicted of crimes motivated by racial, religious, ethnic, handicap, gender, or sexual orientation bigotry or bias (a.k.a. hate crimes), while at the same time protecting the identities of victims.
Bocanegra saw the need for a registry after looking at Department of Justice data showing:
-Total hate crime incidents increased in California by 10.42 percent in 2015;
-Hate crime incidents involving a religious bias increased 49.6 percent in 2015;
-Hate crime incidents involving a Hispanic/Latino bias increased 35 percent in 2015; and,
-The number of victims of reported hate crime incidents increased 10.39 percent in 2015.
The assemblyman says he can relate with the existential crisis being experienced by some in Orange County, where Muslims are dealing with threats of mosque bombings, ethnic cleansing and hijabs being pulled off women’s heads in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential victory.
“Just after the presidential election, several of my former students at UCLA who are Muslim or Dreamers expressed concern about the future of the political and civic climate in our country,” Bocanegra writes in an email to the Weekly.
“Many people now feel unsafe because of anti-immigrant rhetoric and hate crimes in our communities. AB 39 sends a clear message to perpetrators that any violence, especially violence rooted in bigotry, will not be tolerated in California.”
Let’s track how the Orange County legislative delegation handles his bill, shall we?