California has new laws to protect against escalating hate crimes

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Amid a spike in hate-fueled violence across the country, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law two measures to equalize and strengthen penalties for wearing hate symbols and beef up security at faith-based and community-based nonprofits. , which are often the target of attacks.

The new law AB 2282 of the Democratic assemblywoman from Orinda, Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, establishes that people who use any of the three symbols of hate such as swastikas, ropes and burning crosses, will be subject to the strongest of criminal sanctions.

“At a time when hate permeates public discourse and violent extremism threatens our communities, it is critical that we take a clear and strong stand against bigotry in all its forms,” Governor Newsom said.

“California will not tolerate the violence that terrorizes any of our communities, and this measure updates state law to punish the use of universally recognized symbols of hate. California will continue to lead the fight to eradicate hate and defend those who are attacked because of who they are, how they identify or what they believe.”

Additionally, AB 2282 equalizes restrictions on where the symbols may be legally used and expands the restricted locations to include K-12 schools, colleges, cemeteries, places of worship, private property, public spaces, and workplaces, among others. locations

This legislation ensures that vulnerable communities are equally protected from the use of terrorist symbols, such as burning crosses, Nazi symbols and ropes.” said Assemblywoman Bauer-Kahan.

Governor Newsom also signed AB 1664 by Encino Democratic Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel to bolster the state’s nonprofit grant program that helps nonprofits targeted by hate violence improve safety in their installations.

AB 1664 expands the program, which was set to expire in 2025, and allows grant recipients to fund additional uses, including safety training.

A recent report from the California Attorney General shows that hate crimes have increased 89% over the last decade.

“In a world where hate crimes and anti-Semitism are on the rise, we need more than thoughts and prayers to keep us safe,” said Assemblyman Gabriel.

“This new law will provide critical resources to protect vulnerable communities and send a powerful message that California stands firm against hate.

California Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis said that as we continue to see an increase in hate crimes and anti-Semitic attacks in California and the United States, AB 1664 is a powerful counter to keeping our most vulnerable communities safe.

Assemblyman Gabriel authored legislation to establish the nonprofit security grant program in 2019 in the wake of the deadly shooting at Chabad of Poway, a synagogue in San Diego County.

Since then, the program has funded critical security improvements at religious institutions, LGBTQ community centers, reproductive health facilities, and other nonprofits deemed at risk of violent extremism.

This year’s state budget included a $50 million allocation for 209 community groups. California has funded a total of $110 million in anti-hate programs.

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AB 1664 is supported by a coalition of marginalized communities at the heart of hate-motivated violence:

Richard Konda, CEO of Asian Law Alliance: “Since the start of the pandemic, Asian Americans, and especially women and the elderly, have been the targets of a staggering increase in hate, prejudice, and violence.

“With the continuing rise in anti-Asian hatred, the need for state funding and resources has never been greater. Safety and security is a concern for all Asian-American institutions and community centers in California.”

Samir Kalra, director of the Hindu American Foundation: “In the wake of the recent spike in hate crimes against Hindu Americans and Hindu temples, we are especially grateful to Assemblyman Gabriel for his continued leadership in ensuring that vulnerable institutions, organizations and communities in the state are better protected against the hatred.

Nikki Singh, Policy and Advocacy Manager, Sikh Coalition: “While Sikhs have been an integral part of the American fabric for more than 125 years, they remain a disproportionate target of bigotry, prejudice, intimidation and backlash.

Gurdwaras (Sikh places of worship) in the United States have also been vulnerable to vandalism and attacks. There is a clear need to extend and expand the State of California Nonprofit Security Grant Program and make funds and services more available to the communities that need it most.

Governor Newsom last week appointed the members of the State Commission on Hate, established in the 2022 budget, to evaluate statistics on hate crimes in California, provide resources for victims and make recommendations to improve the protection of the rights civilians.

Bamby Salcedo, director of the Translatin@ Coalition, remained on the State Hate Commission.

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