Community leaders, representatives of advocacy and civil rights organizations and members of ethnic media outlets across Los Angeles recently participated in a virtual dialogue to discuss hate crimes and incidents, how and where to report them, and the role of the media in promoting awareness about hate-related issues.
Nearly three dozen participants took part in the “Stop The Hate: Know Your Resources” Zoom roundtable, including the Civil Rights Department of California, Ethnic Media Services, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) of California, Indian Voices and many others.
The virtual gathering was presented by Al Enteshar, an Arab American newspaper in Los Angeles, to help encourage “meaningful dialogue and collaboration” related to hate incidents and hate crimes toward ethnic and minority communities.
“It’s very important to share [our experiences] with everyone – to share our thoughts and what’s happening in our different communities,” explained Fatmeh A. Bakhit, editor-in-chief of Al Enteshar, who resides in Sylmar.
Though it may sound like a cliche, she said the underlying truth remains that despite our disparate circumstances, communities, ethnicities and cultures, many of us are “facing [many] of the same problems, and we have to work together to help resolve them.”
Hadir Azab of CAIR-CA agrees that communication is key to keeping a spotlight on vital topics.
“Addressing hate in our communities today is something that was often overlooked for too long and maybe even pushed under the rug,” she said. “Addressing hate openly and bringing it out in a way that we can come together as a community – to see how we can help each other and how we can uplift each other – is something that I think has been missing, and I’m happy to see that people are coming together to do so.”
Julian Do of Ethnic Media Services pointed to the complexity involved in trying to define the specific parameters of what legally constitutes hate incidents and hate crimes. “There are no clear definitions because the answer is always, ‘It depends,’” he explained. In its simplest definition, it’s a crime aimed at a certain individual of a certain group – based on hate or bias towards that person or group – that can manifest as a physical attack, serious harm or even death.
Dahlia M. Taha of Al Enteshar, co-moderator for the roundtable, stressed that even with murky definitions of hate crimes and incidents, or challenges in proving intent or evidence of bias in a court of law, the bottom line remains: “Even if an act of hate does not rise to the level of a crime, and it’s a hate incident, it’s still very harmful within a community, and to the individual.”
Participants also discussed the importance of media outlets doing more than simply reporting when hate crimes occur.
Raji Rab, a San Fernando Valley resident currently running for the U.S. Senate, said he believes the media should be less reactive and instead choose to be more proactive in addressing hate topics.
“Hate is the worst thing that can penetrate a society and it’s contagious, but there’s much more than can be done,” said Rab. “The media sometimes only reports on hate when incidents take place, and even though the media is part of the problem, it can also be part of the solution.”
Part of that solution can include reporting statistics about past hate crimes as they’re released, or creating stories that help humanize members of targeted groups. The goal, said Bakhit, is to promote cohesiveness, and hopefully help reduce the frequency of future incidents and tragedies.
“Of course, we report about it when something terrible happens,” acknowledged Bakhit, “but why not try to get the word out about resources and [other information] before, so that people know where they can turn if anything does happen in the future? … We don’t have to wait for an incident to occur; we can start to prepare, to inform and maybe help avoid something [tragic].”
Throughout the discussion, participants shared a variety of LA-based and statewide resources for reporting hate crimes and incidents, and also for related advocacy organizations, including:
– LA County 2-1-1 Hate Crime Reporting: To report a hate crime or incident, call 2-1-1. For more information, go to https://civilandhumanrights.lacity.gov/laforall.
– CA vs. Hate: California vs. Hate is a statewide campaign that allows reporting in more than 200 languages. To reach the hotline, call 1-833-8-NO-HATE. To learn more, go to www.cavshate.org.
– Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Victim Assistance Program: This program assists with filing for the California Victim Compensation Board (for victims of violent crimes). For more information, go to www.helplacrimevictims.org.
– MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund): MALDEF supports civil rights, specifically on behalf of Latino Americans. For more information, go to www.maldef.org.
– CHIRLA (Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights): CHIRLA is an advocacy organization for immigrant families and individuals. To learn more, go to www.chirla.org.
For additional anti-hate resources and advocacy organizations, go to www.sanfernandosun.com.
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.