By Destiny Gurrola
SACRAMENTO, CA – Legislation authored by CA State Senator Thomas J. Umberg (D-Santa Ana) passed the Senate Public Safety 5-0 committee this week, addressing massive increases in hate crimes.
Currently, said Umberg, judicial search warrants are barred from being applied to misdemeanor hate crimes. But SB 64 would expand the application of search warrants to misdemeanor hate crimes.
Umberg, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, noted, “It’s hard to believe given the rapid rise in hate crimes in recent years, but these numbers may actually be underreported as victims encounter the justice system and learn the threshold for felony investigation of their case.”
Umberg added, “SB 64 provides our law enforcement agencies with another vital tool to investigate hate crimes in California and help our communities feel safe and protected…hate crimes are not always intended to target an individual, but may be committed in order to send messages of fear to a larger community.”
Anti- Asian hate crimes have increased by 339 percent, surpassing their numbers from 2020, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism that adds the need to help vulnerable communities, such as cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, is exponentially growing due to the shown increase in the number of hate crimes committed and reported.
There were 398 hate crimes and incidents in Orange County in 2021, according to a Hate Crimes report released by the County of Orange, adding Hate activity increased 165 percent within the five year span from 2017 to 2021 in Orange County alone.
The motivations for 60 percent of these reported hate crimes were race, ethnicity, or national origin, said the bill’s supporters.
About 33 percent of hate crimes and incidents occurred in areas like public transportation, communal spaces, or on the streets…39 cases were initiated or directly received through referral for hate crime consideration by OC District Attorney, which said it has prosecuted more than twice the number of hate crimes than the previous 25 years of administrations.
Sen. Umberg has previously attempted to address hate crimes, noting that when he was a federal prosecutor he tried a 1989 case involving white supremacists who burned a cross on the law of a Black family. He later authored, when he was in the Assembly, a bill making burning a cross a state hate crime with a three-year penalty.