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As Hate Crime Reports Rise, Attorney General Bonta Offers Multilingual Support

Speaking at a press conference in Oakland’s Chinatown on June 30, Attorney General Robert Bonta unveiled new resources to combat a surge in hate crimes over the past year.

A special report also released on Wednesday by Bonta’s office shows crimes targeting the Asian community in California increased by 107 percent from 2019 to 2020.

Crimes targeting Black people almost doubled in 2020 as well, comprising more than 34 percent of all reported cases.

On average, there were roughly 42 hate crimes reported per 10,000 Asian residents in the Bay Area last year, with the highest number coming from Santa Clara County, according to the report.

“We’re going to keep doing our part to fight on your behalf,” Bonta said. “We’re going to keep you safe.”

The attorney general’s office released new guidance for the public and law enforcement to better understand and address hate crimes.

The new law enforcement bulletin and guidance for prosecutors aim to help officials properly identify and investigate hate crimes and help ensure fair and uniform application of hate crime laws. In addition, the bulletin will help identify alternative forms of sentencing as well as restorative justice approaches to hate crime prosecutions, and aims to increase the success of prosecuting hate crimes by ensuring more immediate and consistent contact with victims and affected communities.

Bonta’s office also released updated brochures and factsheets in 25 languages to help victims and members of the public identify and report hate crimes.

According to the brochure, victims of a hate crime should contact their local law enforcement agency immediately, write down the exact words that were said and get the names and addresses of other victims and witnesses.

The brochures also direct victims to places where they can seek help, such as the California Attorney General’s Office Victims’ Service Unit and Community Relations Services within the U.S. Department of Justice.

Under the California Victims’ Bill of Rights, victims of hate crimes can apply for money to cover property losses, medical expenses and lost wages and receive court ordered protection.

A panel on June 30, hosted online by the San Francisco Bar Association took on the topic of mental health and well-being in the context of hate crimes and police brutality.

Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith, a child clinical psychologist emphasized the importance of victims of hate crimes to seek mental help. She advised against waiting until someone reaches a breaking point to ask for help.

“The time to ask for help is right now, to de-stigmatize the notion that therapy only has to happen in the context of crisis,” she said. “Therapy is a powerful means of self care and of investing in yourself.”

Copyright 2021 KQED