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(MUSEUM OF TOLERANCE, LOS ANGELES) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today released the final report of the Attorney General's Civil Rights Commission on Hate Crimes which found social and cultural barriers continuing to discourage the reporting of hate crimes. The report outlines 16 recommendations to improve the reporting of hate crimes in local communities, in schools and by law enforcement agencies.
"There is much to consider in this report for improving the reporting of hate crimes in California," Lockyer said. "We are moving ahead on some of the recommendations through legislation proposed this year. Improving reporting in our communities and our schools will be important steps to undertake."
Lockyer was joined by members of his Civil Rights Commission on Hate Crimes, state Sen. Kevin Murray of Los Angeles, who is among several lawmakers with bills sponsored by the Attorney General to implement recommendations in the report, Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley and Ismael Ileto, brother of slain Filipino American postal worker Joseph Ileto whose white supremacist killer was sentenced to life in prison for the hate crime.
Participating Commission members included: Maria Alegria, Pinole City Council Member; Salam Al-Mayarati, executive director, Muslim Public Affairs Council; Gwen Baldwin, executive director, LA Gay and Lesbian Center; Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean, Simon Wiesenthal Center; Mary Figueroa, trustee, Riverside Community College Board of Trustees; Rusty Kennedy, executive director, Orange County Human Relations Commission; Mary E. O'Gorman, adminsitrator, Santa Barbara Human Relations Commission; Sue Stengel, western states counsel, Anti-Defamation League; Robin Toma, executive director, LA County Human Relations Commission; Howard Welinsky, past chair, Jewish Community Relations Committee, Jewish Federation; and Fred Persily, executive director, California Association of Human Relations Organizations.
"In preparing this report, Commission members visited nearly two dozen large and small diverse communities throughout the state," Lockyer said. "The Commission found that while many communities are responding and taking steps to address hate crimes, more still needs to be done so California can truly reflect the wealth of its social and cultural diversity."
Among the legislative proposals being pursued is the "Community Intergroup Relations Act." The bill, SB 143, by Senator Murray, would encourage the development of city and county human relation commissions to sponsor hate violence prevention and response networks. The Commission found these hate crime prevention networks to be effective in improving the way law enforcement and schools identify and report hate crimes. Victims also gain a better awareness of hate crime laws and the services available to help victims of these crimes.
Another bill, SB 1139, by Senator Liz Figueroa would require K-12 schools to have the technical resources required to institute programs on the prevention, identification, reporting, and appropriate responses to intergroup tensions, hate incidents, and hate crimes. A third bill, SB 257, by Senator Sheila Kuehl, would require schools to develop hate crime reporting procedures.
The report, which may be viewed on the Attorney General's web site (http://caag.state.ca.us) outlines 16 recommendations that fall into four main areas:
*Launch multi-lingual educational campaign to increase public awareness about hate crimes, hate incidents and the availability of community resources.
*Have the Department of Justice establish a toll-free hotline and provide online hate crime reporting forms to encourage reporting of hate crimes.
*Enact legislation to set standards for and provide financial support to city and county human relation commissions to sponsor hate violence prevention and response networks.
*Seen enactment of "School Intergroup Relations Act" to provide needed training and resources for elementary, junior high and high schools to respond to the concerns of a growing number of parents and students who feel their schools are not safe and staff are indifferent to hate crimes and hate incidents.
*Encourage state colleges and universities to identify and develop guidelines so that post-zsecondary institutions meet their obligations for identifying and reporting hate crimes.
*Require specified training on identifying, reporting and responding to hate crimes and hate incidents for all levels of sworn peace officers and other law enforcement staff, such as dispatchers.
*Revise existing guidelines and training to improve hate crime reporting and law enforcement responses involving gender-based crimes, disability-based violence, hate-motivated crimes involving gang members and identification of a hate crime where there may be multiple motives.
*Encourage law enforcement agencies to work with local government and community agencies to develop programs to prevent and respond to hate crimes and hate incidents.
*Broaden the application of the new Hate Crimes Database in the California Department of Justice to allow local law enforcement agencies to electronically submit information now used to compile annual reports on hate crimes in the state.