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LA supervisors vote to speed hate crimes enforcement

FILE PHOTO: Graffiti is left on the wall of a Hawthorne, California, mosque on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015. Hate crimes against Muslims spiked after terror attacks in Paris last November and a mass shooting in San Bernardino last December. Los Angeles County officials say they have been receiving reports of hate crimes in the wake of the Nov. 8 election.
FILE PHOTO: Graffiti is left on the wall of a Hawthorne, California, mosque on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015. Hate crimes against Muslims spiked after terror attacks in Paris last November and a mass shooting in San Bernardino last December. Los Angeles County officials say they have been receiving reports of hate crimes in the wake of the Nov. 8 election.
Hawthorne Police Department

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Los Angeles County supervisors unanimously backed a motion Tuesday aimed at combating hate crime after several suspected incidents were reported following the Nov. 8 presidential election.

Supervisor Hilda Solis proposed that the county sheriff's department "act swiftly to proactively contact communities likely to be targeted" and reassure them that the immigration status of victims or witnesses won't be questioned, this to encourage the reporting of hate crimes.

County officials and the sheriff's department are to report back in 60 days on what is being done to implement the recommendations of a county anti-hate crimes task force established earlier this year. The recommendations include setting protocols for quick information-sharing about hate crimes among government agencies and coordinating with police to “investigate, arrest, and ensure appropriate consequences” for those found to have perpetrated hate crimes.

The county Office of Education is also required to report back in 60 days with a plan for preventing and responding to bullying and harassment in schools.

"We cannot stand idly by while acts of hate continue," Solis said in an emailed statement on Monday. "The goal is to make sure our residents feel safe and empowered to report any acts of hate they may encounter. Tomorrow's hate-crime motion will direct our departments to work to ensure that L.A. County continues to be a safe place for all residents to live in."

The supervisors' action is one of several efforts by California officials to respond to fallout from the election of Republican Donald Trump as president. Although Trump did not endorse groups like the Ku Klux Klan that backed him, civil rights organizations say his campaign rhetoric and election have emboldened those who commit hate crimes.

During a recent "60 Minutes" interview, Trump told perpetrators of hate crimes to "stop it." Some have questioned whether he is doing enough to prevent the incidents, which have spiked nationwide.

Last week, Robin Toma, Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission executive director,  told KPCC that in at least two of the cases in recent days, the attackers reportedly referenced Trump's election.

According to Solis's office, her proposal aims to put into practice the anti-hate crimes task force recommendations developed in response to an increase in anti-Islamic incidents last year. Hate crimes and hate speech targeting Muslims spiked after terror attacks in Paris last November and a mass shooting in San Bernardino last December.

Solis’ motion cites several reports that authorities have been investigating in recent days, including this one:

...the Sheriff’s department reported that on Wednesday a woman in Azusa was pushing a stroller down the sidewalk. She was approached by an adult male with gray hair who drove a red pick-up truck alongside her. The man allegedly got out of his vehicle and said, “Get out of my country you [expletive] [expletive], you Mexicans infest this country and are all free loaders.” He then allegedly threw a cup full of soda onto the woman and said “You’re lucky if I would have had my gun, it would have gone worse for you," before driving away.

Also at the supervisors' Tuesday's meeting, Solis introduced a separate proposal to be heard Dec. 6 seeking "protection of identities" of immigrants in the county. It calls on the sheriff's department to report back on any policy changes planned in the event of deportations under the Trump administration.

This story has been updated.