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Looking at California’s Hate Reporting Hotline One Year In

logo with CA VS hate written in colorful speech bubble

By Selen Ozturk, Ethnic Media Services

One year after the multilingual CA vs Hate reporting hotline was launched, how has it answered hate?

At a Friday, March 15 Ethnic Media Services briefing, CA vs Hate staff, civil rights state organizers and community organizations on the ground discussed hate crime trends throughout California, and how the hotline connects those experiencing hate with local resources including mental health support, legal aid and financial help.

The hotline

Since the CA vs Hate line was launched in May 2023, “we have received 823 reports of hate across 79% of the counties in California,” said Chantel Bermudez, senior manager of the hotline.

The protected status reported most often is race, ethnicity, country of origin; then religion; sexual orientation; and gender identity. “66% of those who reported hate accepted care services,” she added, the top five kinds being legal aid, general counseling; consumer complaint assistance; community action and social advocacy; and landlord tenant assistance.

Chantel Bermudez, senior manager of the CA vs. Hate Resource Line, CA Civil Rights Department, gives an overview of the new CA vs Hate Resource Line and Network, which connects those who have experienced or witnessed hate to appropriate support services and agencies.

The resource is open between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday by phone at  833-8-NO-HATE or 833-866-4283, or anytime online at cavshate.org, for California residents to privately report and get support in over 200 languages for non-emergency hate crimes and incidents for free, regardless of immigration status, and anonymously if they choose.

Community organizations partnered with the hotline provide hate response services statewide through weekly case conferences with state civil rights agents, said CA Civil Rights Department Community-Based Organization Manager James Williams Jr.

“This is one of the largest efforts of its kind by the sheer size of our state, and many states are looking at how we implement it by working together to help those in need of support,” he added. “As California goes, so goes much of the nation.”

Stopping hate on the ground

The CA vs Hate network includes 13 call centers and five direct victim support organizations statewide.

“When someone calls the line, we provide an interpreter in their preferred language, and referrals to the type of resources they want. Someone trained to take reports writes a description of what bias motivations and words or actions the hate act included,” said Yolie Anguiano, CA vs Hate director for 211LA, the state hotline’s lead agency, which has provided a similar 24-hour LA vs Hate service for a third of Californians since 2019.

Yolie Anguiano, 211LA, describes the services people will receive when they call the CA vs Hate hotline and notes that the hotline deepens our understanding of hate activity in California.

“You don’t have to be the targeted person— you can also report as an advocate or a witness,” she added.

“How can we ensure that we’re not only responding to hate but preventing it? Hate is on the rise statewide, and comes in many forms,” said Cynthia Choi, co-founder of hotline partner Stop AAPI Hate and co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action. “To only treat criminal incidents as serious is a disservice to our community that furthers a sense of distrust and hopelessness that nothing can be done.”

“We learned very quickly from those who called us that even the fact that somebody on the other end is believing, listening to and caring about what they share with us — that there is, who cares to listen — has a healing effect,” Choi added.

James Williams Jr., community-based organization manager, CA Civil Rights Department, explains the Case Conference, a collaborative effort between the California Civil Rights Department, the California Versus Hate team and community-based organizations to coordinate care for those who have reported hate incidents and crimes to the CA vs. Hate hotline.

Even among criminal incidents, hate is skyrocketing.

The latest available FBI data, from 2022, shows that reported hate crimes soared statewide for nearly every demographic group in California. There were a total of 2,120 reported crimes — a 20.2% jump from the previous year.

Thirteen hundred of these reports were of suspected racial, ethnic or national origin bias, while half of these targeted Black Californians — 27.1% more than the prior year.

Furthermore, Black students in about 6% of California public schools report experiencing hate.

>>>Read: Online Hate ‘Bleeds Into Real Life,’ Promotes School Bullying

“The highest-reported situations our units statewide get are school violence situations specifically targeted at Black students,” said Connie Alexander-Boaitey, president of hotline partner NAACP Santa Barbara. “Unfortunately, most of this hate towards Black students is being perpetrated by Latinx students … and we’re struggling in the communication between these communities. How do you focus on school when you’re being traumatized every day?”

>>>From the Archives: Black Liberation Is Latinx Liberation Too

To address this school hate, NAACP Santa Barbara and the California Civil Rights Department kicked off an ongoing series of intercommunity dialogues between the Latino and Black communities on Feb. 26.

Connie Alexander-Boaitey, NAACP Santa Barbara, shares statistics on the hate and discrimination Black students in California face.

“You can report and report hate, but if we don’t encourage communities to talk to each other, we can’t get to the source and help our students thrive at school,” said Alexander-Boaitey.

LGBTQ+ hate crimes are also on the rise, with 391 motivated by sexual orientation bias in California in 2022 — 29% more than the previous year.

Furthermore, these are only reported crimes; the U.S. National Crime Victimization Survey estimates that at least 40% to 50% of all hate crimes are unreported to law enforcement.

Overall, LGBTQ+ people are nine times more likely to be victims of a hate crime than non-LGBT individuals.

“Since the CA vs Hate line kicked off, we’ve definitely seen an increase in people seeking services against discrimination, especially legal housing and mental health support,” said Ariel Bustamante, senior manager of capacity building at hotline partner LA LGBT Center.

“From a small business owner being gunned down for visible support of the community, to a terrified parent calling us about their elementary school child who was assaulted on campus by another student after being targeted for their sexual orientation, to a transgender woman struggling to remain housed due to a violent neighbor and negligent landlord, to even Sen. (Scott) Weiner being targeted, these incidents highlight the urgent need to not only respond to hate, but ensure it doesn’t happen,” she continued.

Ariel Bustamante, LA LGBT Center, shares statistics on the hate faced by the LGBTQ+ people and discusses the impact of politics on the community.

“These acts of hate are interconnected — when we see increases in one area, we often see increases across the board, and understandably, people sometimes feel reluctance or distrust in reporting it,” said Becky Monroe, deputy director of strategic initiatives for the California Civil Rights Department. “This is why it’s so important to encourage people to report or get help through their community organization if they don’t feel safe coming directly to us,” she added. “When it comes to stopping hate, there should be no wrong door.”

This resource is supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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