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California Attorney General calls hate crimes a crisis in the state

"I’m declaring that there is no room for hate, no here, not anywhere, not now, not ever,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta
Credit: AP
California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaks at a news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. Bonta announced that his office has reached a settlement with the city of Bakersfield, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, requiring broad police reforms after a investigation over a long pattern of alleged police abuses. A state investigation, begun in 2016, found that the Bakersfield Police Department's actions deprived residents of their constitutional protections. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Attorney General Rob Bonta visited Sacramento and met with community leaders Thursday. He said California is in a crisis when it comes to hate crimes. Bonta said hate crimes have risen dramatically throughout California but especially in Sacramento.

“As the California Attorney General, with the full force and effect of the law and the state constitution, I’m declaring that there is no room for hate, no here, not anywhere, not now, not ever,” said Bonta.

He explained the numbers he has been seeing.

“Sacramento in particular has higher levels of hate than the rest of the state. It’s about 30% increased from 2019 to 2020 statewide. But in Sacramento, it’s a 50% increase. So very important for me to be in Sacramento with those communities who are suffering from the forces of hate right now and to let them know I’m there to help,” Bonta explained.

He lays some of the responsibility for the rise in hate at the feet of leaders.

“I think a big part of it is how leaders speak, the rhetoric leaders use and some very damaging rhetoric had been used by the former occupant of the white house that I believe gave license to acts of hate that fueled hate, xenophobia, racism, discrimination,” said Bonta.

Still, he believes there are readily available solutions.

“Education, for example, is one. Ethnic studies, understanding our differences,” Bonta said.

He explained he believes law enforcement also has a role to play

“Working with law enforcement to make sure that when there is a hate crime, that meets the requirements of a hate crime, that it be investigated, and that it be identified as such that justice is done and accountability is realized,” he said.

Willie Recht, the CEO of the Jewish Federation, has seen the problems first hand.

“It’s disturbing. It’s unsettling. It’s scary. Unfortunately, it’s nothing new to the Jewish community specifically,” Recht explained.

He specifically referenced flyers distributed in Carmichael a week prior with Swastikas and slurs.

“These days nothing surprises me, unfortunately. You know and it’s not just Sacramento, although it has gone up 50% in Sacramento, the ADL put up something that hate crimes are the worst in 12 years,” explained Recht.

He’s seen many Sacramento communities impacted in recent times.

“It’s like a revolving door of hate. And thankfully I think Sacramento is in the unique position where we support one another,” said Recht.

He emphasized how restorative that outreach can be in times of crisis.

“The only silver lining in this whole thing is that especially in this community we really do come together to support each other and stand up and say, ‘This is enough. This can’t happen. This is happening and it can’t happen anymore.”

Recht too sees solutions.

“I really think the more that you know people, the harder it is to hate them. And I know that sounds Pollyannaish but I think it’s true. It’s really hard to hate someone you know. And that’s why we make such an effort and other communities do too that when these horrible things happen, we show up for each other. We know each other,” explained Recht.

Watch more ABC10: Stockton hate crime suspect held without bail, victim says he's forgiven

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