Key Committee Advances Hate Crimes Prevention Measure in California State Legislature

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Legislation Supported by Leading Jewish Organizations Will Enable Law Enforcement to Better Respond to Violent Bigotry and Protect Vulnerable Communities

SACRAMENTO, CA — Today, the Assembly Public Safety Committee unanimously passed Assembly Bill (AB) 2236, by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino), which would strengthen California’s response to the recent rise in hate crimes and antisemitic incidents. Most significantly, AB 2236 would better equip law enforcement to respond to hate crimes, including by providing comprehensive training on hate crimes trends and best enforcement practices.

AB 2236 was introduced in response to concerns about the recent uptick in bigotry as well as recommendations from the California State Auditor, who found in a 2018 audit that law enforcement agencies in California routinely failed to adequately identify, report, or respond to hate crimes. The audit concluded that inadequate policies and lack of oversight by the Department of Justice contributed to a systemic underreporting of hate crimes in the State of California.

“With antisemitic incidents reaching record levels in 2019, we must do more to prevent hate crimes and protect our communities,” said Assemblymember Gabriel, who also serves as Vice Chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus. “We know that the Jewish Community and many other communities are at risk, and that hate-motivated bigotry and violence often increase during moments of social and economic uncertainty. This legislation will help ensure that law enforcement is best equipped to respond to hate crimes and protect those at risk.”

AB 2236 builds on AB 1548, prior legislation authored by Assemblymember Gabriel and signed into law by Governor Newsom in 2019, which established the California Nonprofit Security Grant Program and provided $15 million to protect houses of worship, schools, community centers, and other vulnerable institutions at risk of hate-motivated violence.

AB 2236 is supported by numerous Jewish organizations, including the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California (JPAC), the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, Agudath Israel of California, and Jewish Federations across the State of California. AB 2236 also enjoys support from a diverse coalition that includes LGBTQ, Asian Pacific American, Sikh, Hindu, Women’s, and disability rights organizations.

“California's reported hate crimes reached 1,066 in 2018 after falling to a low of 758 in 2014,” said Nancy Appel, California Legislative Director for ADL. “In 2019 ADL tabulated a record number of antisemitic incidents in the U.S. This alarming milestone includes 330 incidents just in California, with the deadly assault at Chabad of Poway being the most egregious. These worrisome trends require redress, and AB 2236 is part of the solution enabling law enforcement to better protect vulnerable communities from violent bigotry.”

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, hate crimes in the City of Los Angeles increased 40% from 2016 to 2019. Data collected by the U.S. Department of Justice suggests that hate crimes occur 24 to 28 times more frequently than they are reported.