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San Diego Somali Community Scared In Wake Of Alleged Hate Crimes

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San Diego Somali Community Scared In Wake Of Alleged Hate Crimes
San Diego Somali Community Is Scared In Wake Of Possible Hate Crimes
San Diego Somali Community Is Scared In Wake Of Alleged Hate Crimes GUEST: Oscar Garcia, deputy San Diego District Attorney, hate crimes division

I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. It's Wednesday, November 16 pick our top story on Midday Edition. Will the heightened emotions and hateful rhetoric of the presidential campaign disappear now that it's over? San Diego law enforcement is embedding it. Since the election hundreds of hate crimes have been reported across the country. In San Diego stand in at San Diego State, the mugging of a woman is being investigated as a hate crime. Abdimalik Ahmed, Executive Director of porn of Africa has spoken to the woman's family about how this incident has affected her. It's 2:30 PM and it occurs to me. We came up to her and we sent out --. She's early 20s, a young girl and a snatched her purse and she didn't want to fight them. They took her purse and they took off with her car. There were people that were there and they witnessed them and no one called the police. No one has said, what are you doing? That is the atmosphere we'll deal with. San Diego law enforcement is holding a forum on's hate crimes. I spoke with Asperger's sea -- Oscar Garcia. Oscar, welcome to the program. Thank you for having me. Is there anything new in the way law enforcement is addressing hate crimes in the light of incidences across the country like Law enforcement is vigilant in San Diego. We take pride in being extremely proactive when it comes to hate crimes. We have quarterly law enforcement intelligence meetings where we invite all law enforcement throughout the county to talk about trends and it's something we will be talking about postelection. And what's happening not only in San Diego, but throughout the country. Is a different emphasis on outreach to the community and to get information from the community about various incidents that could be considered hate crimes? It's extremely important the community is made aware of what a hate crime is. And not just what hate time is a hate crime is, but what incidences. That will be part of the topic for the community forum and inviting the Somali community because of recent hate crime related incidences in San Diego. What is the difference? I hate incidents is something the public should be a crime, but under the law it does not qualify as a crime. It may because of a first amendment protection we value in our country. For example, somebody calling someone a racial slur without actual violence or without an actual threat to harm that person. During the heil Hitler salute, to somebody. Just intimidation type events. A lot of it with the Internet, cyber bowling type things. Which may not rise to the level of a crime, but we definitely are seeking law enforcement in San Diego be more proactive. When it comes to investigating hate crimes and hate incidences. Those who commit hate incidences may become emboldened and they may very soon cross the line from hate incident to a crime. We want those hate incidents to be documented by police. Do people actually call the police about perhaps being bullied or appalled -- called a racial slur works how do you find out about those things like At the police academy, we teach a hate crimes course and we encourage cadets to document those incidents. The public may not be aware of what makes a bias type event a natural -- a hate crime versus the heat incidents. We encourage the police to talk with the citizens who call those in. How does law enforcement use information about hate incidents without violating First Amendment rights? The police are in a position to do a encounter. They can go to anybody and engage them in conversation as long as they are not preventing them from leaving at that particular time. If they don't have a suspicion of criminal activity. So the hate incident is reported, the police are in a position to make contact with the individual and get in for information and do a background check. That's not illegal for the police to talk to people. Are hate crimes increasing in San Diego? I know if we look at the state of California, hate crime statistics available on the Internet, there was a rise with an over 10% rise in hate crimes from the last reported year from 2015 compared to 2014. The statistics for 2016 won't be in for several months I know it's been very busy at my office. I got the tip of the iceberg were subject have been identified. It's been extremely busy, especially over the last recent months. What is the apprehension rate like for those suspected of hate crimes? Is that it difficult trying to prosecute tax It is a huge challenge when it comes to hate crimes. A lot of these her stranger upon stranger and maybe a nighttime. Victims may be under the influence of an intoxicant or drug. It makes it more difficult to identify the perpetrator. As a result, and fortunately when it comes to hate crime apprehension, these are some of the crimes which are most challenged when it comes to edify your perpetrator. Those that are identified come to my office. But when the police don't find a subject, they can go on unsolved for a long period of time. San Diego law enforcement is holding a forum for the Somali community tomorrow. Because of incidences that have targeted Somalis. What message will you have for people who are angry or fearful because of that? What the community in San Diego to know, not just a small community, that everyone in the community to know we are very to -- vigilant. We create a specialized district within the District Attorney's Office and we will be aggressive in these crimes. We will encourage the police to be more proactive. We treat -- we teach cadets of the Academy and do other things with the community and meet with community leaders. I think especially in the current times were sickened. I'm encouraging all law enforcement throughout our state and country. I think it's important police chiefs recognize what's happening and they got the message out to rank and file police officers and detectives to be even more vigilant and aggressive when it comes to these crimes. The hate crimes in the hate incidences. We want to hold those who will commit these type of crimes accountable and vigorously proxy -- prosecute them. It's a message out, we won't tolerate these types of terrible crimes. When and where will that form be held? It's being held tomorrow afternoon and scheduled to begin about 3:30 PM, at the San Diego Police Department's multi--- multicultural office. I have been speaking with Oskar Garcia, District Attorney with the hate crimes unit. Thank you. Thank you.

San Diego law enforcement officers will meet on Thursday with the area's Somali community to discuss "recent crimes in the community including hate crimes, and a fear of post election uncertainties," according to a flyer for the event distributed by the San Diego Police Department.

Since the election, hundreds of suspected hate crimes have been reported across the country including in San Diego.

On Nov. 9, San Diego State University President Elliot Hirshman released a statement about a possible hate crime committed on campus against Muslim student wearing a hijab. Her belongings and car were stolen.

"It's 2:30 p.m. and it's at San Diego State and they came up to her and made several derogatory statements about her being East African and she's in her early 20s, a young girl," said Abdi Mohamoud, executive director of the nonprofit organization Horn of Africa who has spoken with the woman's family. "There was other people there, they witnessed and no one called the police, no one has said 'Hey, what are you doing?' That's just the atmosphere we're dealing with."

Mohamoud added, "It's very terrifying, especially for our young ladies and youth because they don't know when things will get serious."

Somali Community & Law Enforcement Meeting
A flyer distributed by the San Diego Police Department inviting members of the San Diego Somali community to meet to discuss, "recent crimes in the community including hate crime, and fear of post election uncertainties".
To view PDF files, download Acrobat Reader.

Three men have been charged with hate crimes in connection with a separate incident on Oct. 30. The group is accused of attacking a Somali man at a restaurant near University and College Avenues. The victim was hospitalized.

Mohamoud said the community is scared.

Oscar Garcia, a deputy district attorney in San Diego who prosecutes hate crimes, said law enforcement needs to be more proactive when it comes to educating the public about hate crimes

"It's important to specify that it's not just hate crimes that we're concerned about. It's those incidents that may fall under the protection of the First Amendment and may not necessarily cross the line to make it a crime," Garcia said. "Those who are committing the hate incidents, it doesn't take them much longer to cross the line of protected speech and protected activities.

Hate incidents, Garcia said, include slurs and intimidation. He said hate incidents on an individual's record has helped him obtain convictions for hate crimes because it shows that a suspect is known to have "engaged in bigoted behavior."

Garcia discusses hate crimes in San Diego Wednesday on Midday Edition.