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Hate Crimes, Explained In The Context Of California Law




People hold signs during a rally in solidarity with Asian hate crime victims outside of the San Francisco Hall of Justice on March 22, 2021 in San Francisco, California.
People hold signs during a rally in solidarity with Asian hate crime victims outside of the San Francisco Hall of Justice on March 22, 2021 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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A 65-year-old Filipino woman was stomped and kicked outside a Manhattan apartment complex Monday, an assault that has garnered widespread outrage after surveillance footage was shared across social media. This targeted attack came less than two weeks after the Atlanta spa shootings, where six Asian women were killed. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, crimes targeting Asian Americans increased by nearly 150%, according to data compiled by the Center for Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. The first spike occurred in March and April 2020, when citywide lockdowns began to take form.

Despite these statistics, hate crimes are often underreported by victims or undercounted by law enforcement.

A recent study from Survey Monkey and AAPI Data found that Asian Americans were least likely to report hate crimes. The data found that 35% of Asian Americans and 33% of Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders felt uncomfortable reporting hate crimes to the police.

Of the other minority groups surveyed, 30% of Latinos, 32% of Native American and 31% of Black people expressed discomfort reporting hate crimes to law enforcement.

In California, lawmakers are resurrecting bills from 2017 aimed at tackling hate crimes. One proposed legislation would establish a statewide hotline through the California Department of Justice for hate crime victims and eyewitnesses. 

The state recognizes hate crimes as offenses “where a victim is singled out because of their actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.” 

Even with a state statute, classifying an act as a hate crime is fuzzy at best.

Today on AirTalk, we discuss with a legal expert about what exactly constitutes a hate crime in the context of California law. Questions? Call us at (866) 893-5722.

Guest:

Jerry Kang, distinguished professor of law and Asian American Studies at UCLA; founding vice chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at UCLA from 2015-2020; he is the co-author of “Race, Rights, and Reparation: The Law and the Japanese American Internment” (2d ed. Wolters Kluwer 2013); he tweets @profkang