ACT Against Hate Alliance Hosts Leaders Louis Freedberg and Walt Allen in Solutions Focused Anti-Hate Crime Event
California has taken a leadership role in fighting hate crime with astute laws and policies; training and support of educators and police officers are also key
Los Angeles, CA (November 16, 2022) – By far the most populous state, California leads the US in laws and policies relating to diversity and inclusion. This fact makes the dramatic rise of hate crimes—with a 300% rise in crimes targeting Asians in the past year alone––all the more devastating and alarming. As part of its ongoing, solutions-centric programming, Act Against Hate Alliance hosted an event on November 16, bringing together members of the media to hear two leading policy experts in a solutions-focused conversation on education, media, and law enforcement.
Speaker Louis Freedberg was the Director of EdSource from 2011-2021, the Founding Director of California Watch at the Center for Investigative Reporting, and a globally respected reporter whose writing on education, equity, inclusion, diversity, and public policy has been transformative in challenging the status quo and suggesting an effective path to progress.
Speaker Walt Allen is Director of the Rio Hondo Police Academy and was Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s director of the California Youth Authority, which is the largest youth correctional institution in the United States. Allen has been involved in all aspects of law enforcement and civic leadership and brings this essential and unique experience to his work in preparing police academy students for the growing challenges and stresses they face daily, including combatting hate crimes.
With members of over 25 media outlets in attendance, Freedberg, who has reported for many years on education, emphasized how California has already made significant progress in enacting laws and regulations that address diversity and inclusion in education. Such progress includes, for example, the critical requirement that teachers complete diversity training as part of their credentialing. While recognizing that there are still many issues even given this foundation, Freedberg expressed his confidence that things will improve. He describes growing up in a completely segregated South Africa and as a journalist, witnessing Nelson Mandela’s first vote being cast in 1994 to officially end apartheid.
“If apartheid can be ended in South Africa, we should be able to figure out how to get over the racial and ethnic divisions that exist in California,” Freedberg said.
Allen grew up in a segregated environment in Oakland. He got his own training as a police officer at the Rio Hondo Police Academy where he is now the Director and talked about how the selection process has become extremely rigorous for choosing candidates for the Academy.
“I would say that one of every 100 candidates gets hired,” Allen said. “From my perspective, one of the most important aspects of 21st century policing is about recruitment and selection process of individuals that mirror the communities that they are going to be policing.”
Allen described the biggest challenge facing law enforcement today.
“I think police departments really making efforts to engage in good, solid community policing is the first step to establishing a good relationship with the community,” Allen said. “Through legitimacy with the community, citizens will be (more) free to communicate with the police agencies regarding issues they are having with racism in the community and work in concert with the community to help root out some of those types of problems.”
Both Freedberg and Allen include as solutions to hate crime the importance of supporting wellness and mental health to help teachers and police officers deal effectively with the stress inherent in their work.
“Officer wellness is going to become a major component of police academy training in the very near future,” Allen said. “Many of the police agencies realize that the officer wellness piece is a critical piece in terms of the officer functioning properly in the field.”
Freedberg, meanwhile, praised the ACT Against Hate Alliance initiative and leadership for eliminating any political division to address the issue of hate crimes and identify solutions.
“It is so important to reach out across the political divide,” Freedberg said. “This initiative is so important in terms of the discussion.”
The next ACT Against Hate Alliance program will be held next month, Wednesday, December 14th.
- Senator Bob Huff, Former Senate Minority Leader – Moderator
- Mei Mei Huff, Executive Director, Act Against Hate Alliance – Host