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Violence inflicted because of the particular victim's perceived or actual race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, age, or physical or mental disability is an all too common occurrence in some areas of California. So-called hate groups too often transform their rhetoric to action. Cross-burnings, the desecration of our places of worship, gay-bashings, and other such hateful criminal activities have no place in our society. To eliminate such violence, California has specific laws, both civil and criminal, which are designed to protect people from this type of violence and to punish severely those who engage in such offensive behavior.
The Ralph Civil Rights Act, Civil Code section 51.7, addresses the repugnance of racial, ethnic, religious, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, and political violence in California by providing civil and administrative remedies for those who are victims of this type of violence, or of violence directed against any particular class of persons.
The Ralph Act provides that all persons within this state have the right to be free from violence committed against themselves or their property because of their race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, (1) age, disability, position in a labor dispute, or because another person perceives them to have one or more of these characteristics. (2) The Ralph Act also declares that the prohibited types of discrimination listed in section 51.7 are merely illustrative. This means that if someone threatens you or commits a violent act against you because you possess, or are perceived to possess, a characteristic which is shared by members of any identifiable group, you may have a claim under this law.
The rights provided for in the Ralph Act can be enforced by an aggrieved individual (i.e., a victim), the Attorney General, your local district attorney, or your local city attorney. If you, as an aggrieved person, seek to enforce your Ralph Act rights, you can either file a private lawsuit in the appropriate court, (3) or you can file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). (4) The addresses, telephone numbers and web sites of the DFEH district offices are listed in the next chapter.
If you choose to file a complaint with the DFEH, you must do so no later than one year after your Ralph Act rights have been violated. If your claim is accepted, the DFEH will investigate your claim and will attempt to settle your case. If settlement is not achieved, you may file a lawsuit, or the DFEH may institute an administrative action with the Fair Employment and Housing Commission (FEHC), which conducts hearings and issues administrative decisions. If you choose to file a private lawsuit, either on your own or after filing a complaint with the DFEH, you may wish to retain your own attorney.
Where there is a reasonable basis to believe that a person or group of persons is engaged in a pattern or practice of violating rights secured by the Ralph Act, the Attorney General, your local district attorney and city attorney are all authorized to file a lawsuit immediately to protect the rights secured by this Act. (5) If you have evidence of such a pattern or practice, you should contact the Attorney General Office's Public Inquiry Unit at the telephone number or address noted at the beginning of this pamphlet, your local district attorney, or your local city attorney.
Persons who are successful in enforcing their Ralph Act rights in court are entitled to awards for money lost and emotional distress, as well as a civil penalty of $25,000, and reasonable attorney fees. (6) Court orders banning the unlawful behavior and a civil penalty for the victim can be obtained by a victim, the Attorney General, or your local district or city attorney if a violation of the Ralph Act can be established in court. (7)
The Bane Civil Rights Act, Civil Code section 52.1 and Penal Code section 422.6 et seq., prohibits violence or the threat of violence based on grounds such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, age disability or position in a labor dispute.
Civil Code section 52.1 protects all people within this state from interference with their free exercise or enjoyment of the rights guaranteed them by the state or the United States. If the interference is by means of speech alone, however, no remedy will be available to you under the Bane Act unless it can be shown that the speech itself threatened violence against you; that you reasonably feared violence would be committed against you or your property because of the speech; and that the person threatening violence had the apparent ability to carry out the threat. (8)
If anyone interferes with your rights under this law (9) by threats, intimidation, or coercion, you may be able to get a court order banning this behavior and be awarded for money lost and emotional distress, as well as a $25,000 civil penalty and attorney's fees. (10) The Attorney General, your local district attorney or city attorney may also seek court orders to ban the unlawful behavior and other appropriate relief. (11)
If you believe you have a claim under this Act, you may either file a private lawsuit or contact the Attorney General's Office, your local district attorney or city attorney. The court may grant an injunction prohibiting further intimidating or coercive behavior. Any violation of this order is a misdemeanor and may result in fines or imprisonment. (12) If a judgment is awarded in your favor in a private lawsuit, you may receive reasonable attorney's fees as well. (13)
Penal Code section 422.6. In addition to civil remedies, the Bane Act establishes criminal remedies. Penal Code section 422.6, subdivision (a), makes it unlawful to, by force or threat of force, oppress, injure, intimidate, or interfere with any other person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right secured by the state or federal government because of the other person's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender, or sexual orientation or because it is perceived that the victim has one or more of these characteristics. If the force or threat of force is through speech alone, it must be shown that the speech itself threatened violence against a specific person or group of persons, and that the accused had the apparent ability to carry out the violence.
Subdivision (b) of this Penal Code Section prohibits the knowing destruction of real or personal property of any other person in order to intimidate or interfere with the free exercise or enjoyment of rights provided under federal and state constitutions and laws because of the other person's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender, or sexual orientation. Violations of these Penal Code sections are punishable by a jail term and/or a fine.
Penal Code section 422.7 provides that misdemeanors committed because of the victim's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender, or sexual orientation may, under certain circumstances, be punishable as felonies (except in the case of a person punished under Penal Code section 422.6).
Penal Code section 422.75 provides for sentencing enhancements of one to three years for certain bias-motivated felonies against the above groups, or against persons perceived to belong to one or more of these groups. Penal Code section 422.75 also provides for heightened penalties of one to four years if more than one felony hate crime was committed at the same time, the offender had a prior hate crime conviction, a firearm was used, or if the hate crime was committed on certain types of public or private property (i.e., schools, libraries, community centers, meeting halls, places of worship, offices of advocacy groups, etc.).
Penal code section 422.76 defines gender for purposes of various hate crime statutes to mean the victim's actual sex or the defendant's perception of the victim's sex. This includes the defendant's perception of the victim's identity, appearance, or behavior, whether or not the characteristics are traditionally associated with the victim's sex at birth.
Penal code section 422.9, subdivision (a), provides that it is a misdemeanor to violate an order issued pursuant to Civil Code section 52.1, subdivision (a) or (b), the civil portion of the Bane Act. Such a misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in jail or $1,000 or both.
Penal code section 422.9, subdivision (b), provides up to one year in jail for a person previously convicted of violating an order issued pursuant to Civil Code section 52.1, subdivision (a) or (b), on a different charge.
Penal code section 422.9, subdivision (c), gives county prosecuting agencies the primary responsibility for enforcing orders issued pursuant to Civil Code section 52.1.
Penal code section 422.95, subdivisions (a) and (b), provide that if a person is granted probation for any Penal Code section 422.6, 422.7, 422.75, 594.3 or 11411 offenses, the court may order the defendant to complete an available class or program on racial or ethnic sensitivity or other similar training in civil rights as a condition of probation; to make payments or other compensation to a community-based program or local agency that provides services to victims of hate violence; and to reimburse the victim for reasonable costs of counseling and other expenses. Any payments or compensation are in addition to restitution payments required under Penal Code section 1203.04.
Penal code section 422.95, subdivision (c), states that it is the intent of the Legislature to encourage counties, cities, and school districts to establish education and training programs to prevent violations of civil rights and hate crimes.
If you are the victim of or a witness to any of the activities described by these Penal Code sections, contact your local law enforcement agency. If criminal action is taken and you are a victim, you may pursue injunctive relief on your own, independent of any action taken by the Attorney General, district or city attorneys. The Bane Act provides that victims may pursue either private lawsuits or criminal prosecutions, or both. (14)
Government Code section 50260 et seq. authorizes and encourages cities and counties to establish local human relations commissions to preserve peace among citizens of different races, religions, and national origins. If your community has such a commission, you may wish to seek its assistance to address hate violence. Below is a list of local human relations commissions.
California Association of Human Relations Organizations (CAHRO)
1426 Fillmore Ave., Suite 216
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 775-2341, (415) 775-2342 fax
|Alameda County Human Relations Commission||310 45th Street
Oakland, CA 94609
|Contra Costa County Human Relations Commission||2020 N. Broadway, #203A
Walnut Creek, CA 94596
|El Dorado County Round Table on Human Relations||330 Fair Lane
Placerville, CA 95667
|Humboldt County Human Rights Commission||535 5th Street
Eureka, CA 95501
|County of Kern Human Relations Commission||1115 Truxton Avenue
Bakersfield, CA 93301
or (805) 868-3944
|Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission||320 West Temple, Room 1184
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Fax (213) 687-4251
|Marin County Human Rights Commission||Marin County Civic Center
San Rafael, CA 94101
|Orange County Human Relations Commission||1300 S. Grand, Bldg. B
Santa Ana, CA 92705
|Human Rights and Fair Housing Commission of the City and County of Sacramento||1112 I Street, #250
Sacramento, CA 95814
|Human Rights Commission of San Francisco||25 Van Ness, #800
San Francisco, CA 94102
|Santa Clara County Human Relations Commission||Office of Human Relations
70 W. Hedding
San Jose, CA 95110
|Sonoma County Commission on Human Rights||2300 Country Center Drive, B-167
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
|County of Santa Barbara Human Relations Commission||105 E. Anapamu St., #406
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Fax (805) 884-6801
|City of Alameda Social Services Human Relations Board||2263 Santa Clara Ave.
Alameda, CA 94501
|Berkeley Human Welfare and Community Action Commission||2201 Dwight Way, 2nd Floor
Berkeley, CA 94704
Fax (510) 644-8678
|City of Carson Human Relations Commission||701 E. Carson Street
Carson, CA 90745
|City of Chula Vista Human Relations Commission||654 Sea Vale St.
Chula Vista, CA 91910
|Claremont Committee on Human Relations||Human Services Department
840 Indian Hill Blvd.
Claremont, CA 91711
|City of Colton
|670 Colton Avenue
Colton, CA 92324
|Compton City Human Relations Commission||205 S. Willowbrook Ave.
Compton, CA 90220
|Concord Human Relations Commission||Concord Leisure Services Department
1948 Colfax St.
Concord, CA 94520
|Costa Mesa Human Relations Committee||P.O. Box 1200
Costa Mesa, CA 92628-1200
|Human Services and Park Commission of Culver City||Department of Human
Services Culver City Hall
9770 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232-0507
|City of Davis Human Relations Commission||Davis Police Department
226 F Street
Davis, CA 95616
|El Cerrito Human Relations Commission||10890 San Pablo Avenue
El Cerrito, CA 94530
|Fremont Human Relations Commission||2901 Barrington Terrace
Fremont, CA 94536
|City of Fresno Human Relations Commission||2600 Fresno Street
Fresno, CA 93721
|Gardena Human Relations Commission||1700 West 162nd Street
Gardena, CA 90247
|Glendale Human Relations Coalition||613 E. Broadway, #200
Glendale, CA 91206
|Hayward Community Relations Commission||777 B St.
Hayward, CA 94541
|Heartland Human Relations and Fair Housing Association||4710 4th St., Suite 600
La Mesa, CA 91941
|Hemet Human Relations Commission||P.O. Box 3036
Hemet, CA 92546
Fax (909) 765-2337
|Huntington Beach Human Relations Task Force||2000 Main Street
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
|Inglewood Human Affairs Commission||1 Manchester Blvd.,
Inglewood, CA 90301
|City of Livermore Human Services Commission||1052 South Livermore Ave.
Livermore, CA 94550
|Long Beach Human Relations Commission||2525 Grand Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90815
|Human Relations Commission of the City of Los Angeles||200 N. Main St., City Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90012
|City of Modesto Human Relations Commission||City Manager's Office
801 11th Street
P.O. Box 84
Modesto, CA 95353
|Monterey Park Community Relations Commission||320 W. Newmark Avenue
Monterey Park, CA 91754
|City of Oakland Human Relations Commission||1 Frank Ogawa Plaza
Oakland, CA 94612
|Community Relations Commission of the City of Oxnard||Human Services Program
305 W. Third Street
Oxnard, CA 93030
|Palm Springs Human Rights Commission||Human Resources Department
P.O. Box 2743
Palm Springs, CA 92263
|Palo Alto Human Relations Commission||Cubberly Community Center
4000 Middlefield Road
Palo Alto, CA 94303
|Pasadena Human Relations Commission||100 N. Garfield Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91109
|Pinole Human Relations Commission||2131 Pear Street
Pinole, California 94564
|Pittsburg Community Advisory Commission||65 Civic Avenue
Pittsburg, CA 94565
|City of Pleasanton Human Services Commission||P.O. Box 520
Pleasanton, CA 94566-0802
Fax (925) 931-5488
|City of Pomona Community Life Commission||505 S. Garvey
P.O. Box 660
Pomona, CA 91769
|Human Relations Council of Pomona Valley||913 W. Bonita Ave.
P.O. Box 1023
Claremont, CA 91711
|Rialto Human Relations Commission||150 South Palm
Rialto, CA 92376
|City of Richmond Human Relations and Affirmative Action Commission||2600 Barrett Avenue, #301
Richmond, CA 94804
|Riverside Human Relations Commission||3900 Main St.
Riverside, CA 92522
|(909) 826-5709 |
or (909) 826-5302
|San Bernardino Human Relations Commission||300 North "D" Street
San Bernardino, CA 92418
|San Clemente Human Affairs Committee||100 Avenida Presidio
San Clemente, CA 92672
|San Diego Human Relations Commission||1200 3rd Street, Suite 916
San Diego, CA 92101
|San Jose Human Relations Commission||801 N. First St., Rm. 460
San Jose, CA 95110
|City of San Leandro Human Relations Commission||300 Estudillo Ave.
San Leandro, CA 94577
|City of San Luis Obispo Human Relations Commission||Parks and Recreation Department
1341 Nipomo Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
|Santa Ana Human Relations Commission||Parks, Recreation, and
888 West Santa Ana Blvd.
Santa Ana, CA 92701
|Santa Clarita Human Relations Forum||23920 Valencia Blvd., #308
Santa Clarita, CA 91355
or (661) 255-4929
|City of Seaside Human Relations Commission||City Hall
P.O. Box 810
Seaside, CA 93955
|Union City Human Relations Commission||34009 Alvarado-Niles Road
Union City, CA 94587
|City of Vallejo Human Relations Commission||P.O. Box 3068ZZ
Vallejo, CA 94590
|West Hollywood Human Services Commission||8300 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Listed below are some of the other key Penal Code statutes which have been enacted to curb racial, ethnic, religious, and minority violence in California. If you are the victim of or a witness to any of the activities described by these statutes, immediately contact your local law enforcement or police agency:
Penal code section 185 provides that it is a misdemeanor for any person to wear any mask, false whiskers or any personal disguise (whether complete or partial) in order to evade or escape discovery, recognition, or identification in the commission of any public offense.
Effective January 1, 2001, Education Code section 233 requires the State Board of Education to revise the school curriculum to include human relations education, with the aim of fostering an appreciation of the diversity of California's population and discouraging the development of discriminatory attitudes and practices. Education Code section 32228 provides that public schools should have access to supplemental resources to combat bias on the bases contained in Government Code section 12926 of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (see Chapter 2, Employment), and to prevent and respond to acts of hate violence. At the same time, Education Code section 32228.1 requires school districts that receive funds under the School Safety and Violence Prevention Act to certify that funds will be used for one or more of a variety of purposes, including, but not limited to, preventing and responding to acts of hate violence and bias related incidents. Effective also January 1, 2001, Education Code section 44253.3 adds course work on human relations to the curriculum for a certificate to provide certain services to limited-English-proficient pupils. As of January 1, 2001, Penal Code sections 628, 628.1, 628.2, and 628.5 require the Department of Education to report on hate-motivated incidents and hate crimes.
Penal code section 13023 requires local law enforcement agencies to report to the Department of Justice any criminal act where there is reasonable cause to believe the crime was motivated by the victim's race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability. The Department of Justice is required to issue an annual report on July 1st of every year concerning such crimes.
Penal code section 13515.25, effective January 1, 2001, requires that the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training establish a continuing education course relating to law enforcement interaction with developmentally disabled and mentally ill persons.
Penal code section 13519.6 provides that the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training shall develop guidelines and a course of instruction and training in hate crimes for law enforcement officers who are employed as peace officers or enrolled in a training academy for law enforcement officers. Hate crime for purposes of this section means any act of intimidation, harassment, physical force, or the threat of physical force, directed against any person, or family, or their property or advocate, motivated either in whole or in part by the hostility to the real or perceived ethnic background, national origin, religious belief, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation of that person, with the intent to cause fear and intimidation.
Pursuant to the federal Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990, 28 U.S.C. § 534 et seq., the United States Department of Justice collects data on hate crimes.
In 1994, the Legislature enacted the California Schools Hate Violence Reduction Act of 1995. This Act requires the State Board of Education to do the following if private funds are available, and if requested by the Superintendent of Public Instruction:
Among the grounds for the suspension or expulsion of a pupil in grades four through 12 is now the commission of acts of hate violence. (Ed. Code, §§ 48900.3 and 48915.)
Education Code section 233.8 provides that effective January 1, 2001, the State Department of Education, subject to available funding, is required to provide training to school district personnel in identifying and determining hate violence on school campuses. Pupils and teachers may participate in a grant program focused on fostering ethnic sensitivity, overcoming racism and prejudice, and countering hatred and intolerance, subject to available funding.
Under Government Code sections 13959-13969.4, some crime victims may be eligible for financial assistance for unreimbursed expenses resulting from the crime.
For information and assistance, contact:
California Department of Justice
Attorney General's Office
Office of Victims' Services
1300 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Toll Free Number: (877) 433-9069 (in California)