In December 2022, Tracie Cisneros, a volunteer coordinator for Fresno Rainbow Pride, faced harassment and threats at an LGBTQ event held at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, with masked Fresno Proud Boys insulting and intimidating her in front of indifferent police officers. This incident was discussed at a roundtable on hate crimes hosted by California Attorney General Rob Bonta. Other examples of hate crimes, such as the vandalism of a welcoming place of worship and the closure of an Asian-owned restaurant due to harassment, were also shared during the discussion.
Bonta had previously released a hate crime report for 2022, revealing a 20.2% increase in reported hate crimes in California, with notable spikes in incidents against LGBTQ+ residents, Blacks, and Jews. Racially biased events increased by 11%, religiously biased events by 39%, and hate crimes involving sexual orientation by 29%. Bonta emphasized the importance of education to prevent hate incidents from escalating into hate crimes.
The distinction between hate incidents and hate crimes was highlighted, with hate incidents encompassing actions like name-calling and insults that may not reach the level of a crime but still have negative impacts on communities. Hate crimes specifically target individuals based on their characteristics like gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, nationality, or association with a particular group.
Bonta has been hosting hate crime roundtables across California to address these issues and build trust between communities and law enforcement. Despite challenges, both sides express a desire to improve relations. This event in Fresno marked the 12th in a series of meetings involving local elected officials, law enforcement, community leaders, and advocates.
April Taylor-Salery, Trans-E-Motion board member: “We’re having our safe buildings for LGBT people being targeted, now they’re being targeted at school, and with movements to take our history of literature out of libraries.”
Dr. Katherine Fobear, university professor and Trans-E-Motion board member: “Last but not least, in order to stop hate crimes, our police need to know about them. And as many of our panelists have said, people have lots of barriers and fears about reporting to the police. This is especially true in our LGBTQ community. Simply put there’s historical trauma there, right, so many LGBT community do not feel safe walking into the police department or approaching a police officer when they are in need. Creating community partnerships with LGBTQ organizations to create spaces where people feel comfortable and supportive talking to the police is essential.”
If you believe you or someone you know has been the victim of a hate crime, notify local law enforcement and consider taking the following steps:
▪ If you are in immediate danger, call 911, and if needed, seek medical attention.
▪ Write down the exact words that were used and take note of any other relevant facts.
▪ If safe to do so, save all evidence and take photos.
▪ Get contact information for other victims and witnesses.
▪ Reach out to community organizations in your area that deal with hate crimes or incidents.
Reports of hate incidents can also be made to the California Civil Rights Department CA v. Hate hotline and online portal at any time or by calling (833) 8-NO-HATE, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and talking to a trained civil rights agent in over 200 languages. Outside of those hours, people can leave a voicemail or call 211 to report a hate incident and seek support from a professional trained in culturally competent communication and trauma-informed practices.
More information and guidance from the California Department of Justice is available here.