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Hate Crimes

In August of 1999, the Attorney General issued a Rapid Response Protocol, pdf to assist in the investigation, identification, arrest, prosecution and conviction of those who commit hate crimes. The protocol will ensure an immediate deployment of California Department of Justice resources when a hate crime occurs involving serious injury, death or significant destruction of property. Department resources to be made available to assist local and federal law enforcement agencies include: forensic services, intelligence specialists, profilers, criminal and civil rights attorneys, and support for victims of hate crimes.

The Attorney General has available brochures in nine languages on how to identify hate crimes, how to report hate crimes and the services available to victims of hate crimes.

hate crime publication [152KB/46pgs]

In early 2000, the Office of the Attorney General created the Attorney General's Civil Rights Commission on Hate Crimes, pdf. Co-chairing the commission were nationally-recognized police practices expert and former Chief of Police for the City of San Jose, Joseph McNamara, and actor and community activist, Edward James Olmos. Nationally recognized civil rights leader Fred Korematsu served as honorary chair. The Attorney General asked the Commission to explore the problem of under-reporting of hate crimes. Both law enforcement agencies and civil rights groups believe that many hate crimes go unreported. The Commission held nearly two dozen regional meetings throughout the state to gather information to assist it in developing recommendations on how this problem can be solved. The Commission issued its final report to the Attorney General on March 29, 2001. This report contains detailed findings as to the causes of under-reporting and makes 16 recommendations on how to improve the reporting of hate crimes.

In order to educate the public and law enforcement authorities about hate crimes, the Office of the Attorney General held a hate crime conference on May 18, 2000, at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. At this conference, panels of experts addressed several issues related to the problem of hate crimes. The Attorney General also unveiled the Hate Crimes Prototype Database, an investigative tool that will help local law enforcement agencies in California to more effectively track and solve hate crimes.

On August 9, 2002, the Office of the Attorney General filed an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court in Virginia v. Black. This case addresses the constitutionality of Virginia's "cross-burning" statute, which prohibits the burning of a cross on public or private property, if done with the intent to intimidate any person. On April 7, 2003, the Court issued its decision and held that a state statute that prohibits cross burning committed with the intent to intimidate does not violate the First Amendment. This holding is consistent with the position advanced in the Attorney General's brief. However, the Court also held that Virginia's statute is unconstitutional because it contains a provision that treats any cross-burning as prima facie evidence of intent to intimidate.

The Attorney General's Civil Rights Enforcement Section participates, on an ongoing basis, in the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations' Network Against Hate Crime, the Orange County Human Relations' Hate Crime Network, the Bay Area Hate Crime Investigators' Association, the San Diego Regional Hate Crimes Coalition, and the Greater Sacramento Area Hate Crimes Task Force. Generally, these task forces meet on a quarterly basis. Through these task forces, the Attorney General helps to educate communities about hate crimes and how to prevent and respond to them.

The Attorney General's Civil Rights Enforcement Section has actively engaged in the training of law enforcement personnel and community organizations and their members on hate crime laws and prevention.

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