In our endeavor to transform hostility into peace we document hate crime and educate leaders and constituents regarding its incident and impact, and we collaborate with government and community partners for effective prevention and response.
LACCHR staff coordinates a countywide Network Against Hate Crime that includes government representatives, law enforcement agencies, civil and human rights organizations, educators, faith communities, and service groups. We assembled and continue to support the Hate Violence Prevention Partnership LA that works to reduce and end hate violence by providing practitioners opportunities to share best practices and exchange relevant and timely information. We collaborate with other County departments in designing and delivering training on hate crime, implicit bias, and cultural competence. And we respond to individual requests for assistance as well as outbreaks of intergroup conflict.
What is a Hate Crime?
According to California state law, hate crime charges are filed when there is evidence that bias, hatred, or prejudice based on the victim’s real or perceived race/ethnicity, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender, or sexual orientation is a substantial factor in the commission of the offense. This definition is codified in the California penal code sections 422.55 to 422.95 pertaining to hate crime.
Evidence of such bias, hatred, or prejudice can be direct or circumstantial. It can occur before, during, or after the commission of the offense.
Hate speech is a criminal offense when the speaker/writer has threatened violence against a specific person or group of persons. The threat must be immediate and unequivocal. The aggressor must also have the ability to carry out that threat.
Frequently, derogatory words or epithets are directed against a member of a protected class, but no violence is threatened and there is no apparent ability to harm the target. Such hate incidents are important indicators of intergroup tensions. They are not, however, criminal offenses. Such language is protected by free speech rights set forth in the California and U.S. constitutions.
Commission Initiatives to Address Hate Crimes
The Commission’s programs that are designed, at least in part, to prevent and respond to hate violence in Los Angeles County include:
The Network Against Hate Crime brings together law enforcement agencies, human relations organizations, educators, faith communities, social service and advocacy groups to coordinate efforts to combat intolerance and hate crime.
Established in 1984 by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, the Network Against Hate Crime (The Network) brings together law enforcement agencies, human relations organizations, educators, faith communities, social service and advocacy groups and concerned individuals to coordinate efforts to combat hate crime.
The Network meets quarterly to share information and resources, track legislation and sponsor educational activities about preventing, investigating, prosecuting and responding to hate activity. The Network also promotes events that bring together diverse communities in public displays of opposition to hate crime, such as candle-light vigils that were held in memory of the victims of white supremacist shooting sprees in the Midwest and in the North San Fernando Valley in 1999. Network members have also participated in countywide community summits on hate crime.
As the overall rate of crime has declined, reports of hate crime in Los Angeles County have grown. Although it is true that hate crime in our region is fueled by rapidly changing demographics, perceived and real competition for scarce resources, divisive public controversies and racialized youth gang activity, the increase in the number of hate crimes reported is due, in part, to a combination of factors at the root of the work of the Network Against Hate Crime, including:
• Improved police training and standardized reporting systems
• Greater awareness on the part of victims as to how and why to report hate crime
• Growth in collaboration and information sharing among police, community group
• Governmental agencies that encourage greater reporting