As Hate Crime Surge Continues, ACT Against Hate Alliance Brings Visionary Leaders and Education Focus to Identifying Solutions
Bringing to Bear Many Facets of Education Leadership, Program Speakers Provide Concrete, Experience-Based Answers to Addressing Hate Crimes
(CALIFORNIA. January 18, 2023) – ACT Against Hate Alliance (AAHA) opened its fifth virtual media briefing today with California State Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton). The Chair of the CA Senate Education Committee announced his sponsorship of a Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR), which proclaims January 28th, 2023, as “Stand Against Hate Action Day.”
Senator Newman explained the importance of his resolution, which calls upon all Californians to do their part in fighting hate crimes. He says these types of crimes change the course of victims’ lives, undermine public safety, and attack the very notion of what it means to be an American.
Hate crimes have risen in California by a staggering 90-percent since 2012, with anti-Asian hate crimes alone having increased by an unfathomable 974-percent. Senator Newman believes the numbers barely scratch the surface since many victims do not report the crimes of hate that have been committed against them.
“It is incumbent upon each of us to take an active role in denouncing hate,” said Senator Newman during today’s AAHA forum. “It is my hope, that by establishing January 28th as Stand Against Hate Action Day, that we will all take steps to be better citizens both as advocates and as bystanders when reporting incidents, supporting victims, and where appropriate, by intervening.”
Program speaker Denton Carlson is the Chief of the San Ramon Police Department. He became the focus of international media attention when he received a phone call on Christmas morning, notifying him of a hate crime against two American teenagers of Asian descent at a San Ramon area restaurant. The victims had posted the brazen attack on the social media app TikTok.
Chief Carlson, a proponent of using social media, used the same type of outlets to connect with the victims. He also solicited witnesses to help track down a suspect.
“I think the important component in that is that we are using the platforms that we have developed to really increase our engagement with the community,” Chief Carlson said during today’s AAHA forum. “In this case, knowing where freedom of speech ends and hate speech begins is critical. Also, in policing, what we need to change is understanding victim compassion. We need to let them know that as a law enforcement organization, we want to be an advocate for them to make sure this crime is brought to justice.”
Education leader Dr. Kevin O’Mara is a co-founder of School Exec Connect. He works with K-12 programs across the country to source the highest quality leadership for the challenges that confront schools today and to offer training in innovative methods for addressing conflict.
“The first thing that we strongly encourage is to have a series of solidarity events against hate and bias throughout their community,” Dr. O’Mara said during today’s AAHA forum. “We recommend holding 8-10 (of these events) throughout their school year.”
Dr. O’Mara also highlighted the success of having guided reflection and restorative justice practice for students, both of which have far-reaching effects on changing behaviors and helping students learn and grow.
Tim Shaw echoes the same concerns. Shaw is the former Mayor of La Habra in Orange County, and currently serves as a trustee on the Orange County Board of Education.
“Education is the key to combatting hate,” Shaw stated during the AAHA forum.
He cited a study that concluded how language differences often tend to create significant barriers to understanding.
“We do a very poor job in our country of having young people learn different languages,” Shaw said.
As a school board trustee, Shaw indicated his support for schools that teach students about second and even third languages.
With education being a key focus for AAHA as a solution against hate crimes, the voice of students themselves is paramount in spearheading change.
Speaker Aiden Chou, a junior at Flintridge Preparatory High School in La Canada, is launching the inaugural AAHA Youth Initiative. This builds upon his already extraordinary record of community engagement and civic leadership. He has experienced the rise in hate crimes across his community and how the most vulnerable are often targeted.
“We must recognize that hate crimes are not just a criminal justice issue, but also a cultural and societal issue,” Chou said during today’s forum. “We must address the underlying prejudices and biases that lead to hate crimes. To that end, education is vital.”
Chou says he will use the Youth Initiative to collaborate with other impassioned and motivated high school and college students to work toward change. This will be accomplished through media outreach, advocacy, legislation, and broad civic engagement.
Program participant David Chan has witnessed hate crimes in the Bay Area, an experience that sparked him to action. He has been a leader in public service throughout his life, having started a 501(c)3 as a high school sophomore. Now a sophomore and student leader at the University of California (UC) at Berkeley majoring in Political Science, he is partnering with Chou to expand the AAHA Youth Initiative into universities statewide.
“As our culture goes through ongoing changes, if we can positively influence the younger generation and really start this movement, we can flush hate little by little over the course of time,” Chan said during the AAHA forum.
Chan says his experience with the diversity and inclusivity found on the UC Berkeley campus enables students to develop understanding and acceptance, and changes how students treat and respect one another. Chan wants to encourage this level of connection with every high school and college in California. He believes that combatting hate crimes now through the younger generation means combatting hate crimes in the future as well.
“This lack of civic engagement that we find here in our community in amendable,” Chan said. “We believe that the political polarization we see at the national level is funneling down and impacting our local communities. We see it in our social media. We see it on Facebook, on Twitter and on Instagram. We want to take a stand against hate and hate crimes and that means empowering the younger generation on our campuses.”
The effort by AAHA to find the solution to the rising number of hate crimes in California will continue in February. For more information about the February 8th event, please visit the website www.actagainsthate.org.