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California Hate Crime Up 31% In 2020, Led By Anti-Black Bias

 July 2, 2021 at 11:13 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 Did the pandemic bring about an epidemic of hate Speaker 2: 00:04 So far this year, we've seen a pretty steady diet of race-based hate crimes that have come in 2021. Speaker 1: 00:09 I'm Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS mid-day edition. We'll hear how city Heights is working to heal from pandemic stress. Oh, Speaker 3: 00:30 With the mix of denominational, we want a mix. Sure. That the, we have our psychiatrist and we have a counseling in our community because, oh, we felt like a committee community members that needed people that they speak their language. Speaker 1: 00:44 We will culture mapping specialist to our weekend preview that's ahead on it. Midday edition, hate crime numbers are way up across California and efforts to heal a San Diego community hurt by the pandemic. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS midday edition it's Friday, July 2nd. An epidemic of hate that's how California attorney general Rob Bonta describes new statistics that show an alarming increase in hate crimes directed at Asian Americans and African Americans in the state. The overall number of hate crimes in California last year was the highest in more than 10 years. The rhetoric from the Trump administration about China's role in the pandemic and the country's political polarization are cited as two possible explanations for the increase this week. Attorney general Bonta released guidelines for county prosecutors on methods for investigating and prosecuting hate crimes. Joining me is San Diego county, deputy district attorney Leonard Trin, the lead hate crimes prosecutor for the county and Leonard. Welcome to the program. Thank you very much for having me no hate crimes against Asian Americans in California is up 107% last year against African Americans. Up 88% is San Diego seeing numbers like that Speaker 2: 02:28 With respect to anti-Asian hate crimes in 20 17, 20 18 and 2019, we didn't even have a single anti-Asian crime referred to us for review since the start of the pandemic in March of 2020, we've had three cases referred to us and we filed hate crimes charges on all three of them. With respect to anti-black African-American hate crimes. We have seen a similar increase. In fact, a great majority of our race-based hate crimes are targeting the black and African-American people. Speaker 1: 02:59 No, the three anti-Asian hate crimes that prosecutors file charges here in San Diego last year, the organization stop Asian-American and Pacific Islander hate received 42 reports from around this county. So why is there such a disparity between the reports and the prosecutions? Speaker 2: 03:17 Yes. To stop API hates was really trying to capture any bias related incidents that targeted the AAPI community. And so sometimes that could be just a hate incident where there's anti-Asian hate speech that's used, but it doesn't rise to the level of a hate crime. We started our own hate crime hotline in April of last year in response to the rise of anti-Asian sentiment. And since then we've received almost 200 hate crimes tips through that hotline. And 17 of them were anti-Asian. But most of those that came in that were anti-Asian were of that hate incident variety. So the use of racial slurs or comments related to COVID or going back to China, that kind of thing, but they didn't rise to the level of a crime. Speaker 1: 04:03 Hey, crime statewide against Latinos are also up nearly 40%. Do you agree with attorney general Bonta that we're seeing an epidemic of hate, particularly Speaker 2: 04:13 With respect to race based hate crimes, which just, if you look at those, those increased almost 70% from 2019, there were a couple of different factors that contributed to the bat. One race-based hate crimes tend to increase during presidential election years. And so we actually saw a similar increase right around the election time where we had a whole spate of cases come in in October and November, that were race-based. And so I'm hopeful that we're past that now, but so far this year we've seen a pretty steady diet of race-based hate crimes that have come in in 2021. So it doesn't look like a trend that's gone down yet Speaker 1: 04:50 Released guidelines for prosecutors to make hate crime investigations, more uniform around the state. Have you had time to look at that? Speaker 2: 04:57 I looked at edit briefly. We've always been very proactive in our hate crimes prosecutions in general. And so we're usually ahead of, of any statewide guidelines. We were the first office in the state of California to have a dedicated hate crimes prosecutor. Uh, we also lean pretty heavily on our hate crimes coalition and our hate crimes intelligence committee, which are two different groups that combat hate crimes in the San Diego county region. And so that's one of the reasons why we've always kind of been at the forefront of attacking and combating hate crimes Speaker 1: 05:29 Throughout the presentation of these new statistics. This week, officials urged members of the public to report possible hate crimes. Why do you think some victims continue to remain silent? Speaker 2: 05:41 There's a whole bunch of reasons, you know, for one, there's the fear of retaliation. If you're being targeted because of your race or ethnicity or religion or your sexual orientation, those are immutable characteristics that you can't change. And so if you call attention that by reporting a crime that puts you in the spotlight and it puts you in a place where you might feel like you could be further victimized in the future. So the fear of retaliation is, is one major reason why hate crimes victims in particular, our Heston's report. Uh, another reason why is that if you think specifically about the immigrant community, a lot of immigrants, especially in San Diego county come from countries where the popular belief is that government's corrupt and law enforcement's corrupt and military is correct. And so when they arrive in the United States, they are going to think the same things about our government and our law enforcement and our military. And so that fear of not getting the proper dignity and not trusting law enforcement and the government to do the right thing, oftentimes prevents hate crimes victims from reporting Speaker 1: 06:44 Should someone do, if they believe they have been a victim of a hate crime, Speaker 2: 06:48 So we should report it. Obviously what we're concerned about as prosecutors is holding individuals accountable for whatever crimes that they commit. And if there isn't a rapport as a law enforcement, and there's nothing that we can do about the problem, what we know about hate crimes, defendants is many of them have deep seated biases. And so the worry for me as a hate crimes prosecutor is that if they get off the hook on one case, because the victim's hesitant to report, they could just continue further victimizing other members of that same community, which they have a bias against. Speaker 1: 07:19 I've been speaking with San Diego county, deputy district attorney at Leonard trend. And thank you so much for speaking with us. No problem. Anytime the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt blows to many people's mental, physical and economic health, especially in San Diego's immigrant communities, KPBS reporter max Roven Nadler tells us about how a group of peer counselors in city Heights are trying to heal the community by both connecting people to much needed services. And just listening to them Speaker 4: 07:55 Case numbers for the COVID-19 pandemic are down this summer, but the devastation, the pandemic rot on immigrant communities in San Diego is still very much being felt. Hamati, Jamali. The executive director of the Somali Bantu community of San Diego can hear it in the voices of the people who call him at all hours, looking for help in a desperate situation. Speaker 3: 08:17 I think, you know, in the community, a lot of the, with a lot of the community doesn't know their rights, uh, on the, with awaking, with this, with the community, we are advocating the community Speaker 4: 08:28 Help is out there thanks to a steady stream of federal and state funding to stave off evictions, help people make up lost income and get utility bills paid, but connecting these communities to help in languages, they actually understand has been a challenge after such a chaotic year while Jamali takes these types of emergency calls as part of his regular job, he's now joined by over 24 other crisis counselors, part of a project that began in March from the San refugee communities, coalition, Cal hope counseling project and the United women of east Africa. The project came together after a study, found immigrants in San Diego were three times more likely to be unemployed than other San Diego ones Speaker 5: 09:10 Increased anxiety around, um, health monitoring, you know, loss of jobs, the physical isolation, um, from support systems and communities. This pandemic has impacted the refugee and new immigrant community more than the general population. Speaker 4: 09:26 That's Claire and mark. She's helping to lead this program, which uses federal emergency money to train crisis counselors who can speak with immigrant communities in their own languages right now, help is available in 18 different languages. Immigrants can call a single number, then get put through to someone who speaks their language. The counselors are pulled from 11 local community organizations. Many of which are based in city Heights. The organizations have close ties to the local refugee and asylum seeker communities. Speaker 5: 09:57 Our program is really unique. Um, one of the, the main aspects that makes our program unique is it's a peer based workforce. So we have 25 community support navigators who themselves are refugee and new immigrants. So they have this lived experience of surviving the pandemic, right, as we all have, but they have survived the pandemic with this ex this unique experience, Speaker 4: 10:20 Flyers advertising the program have been distributed at immigrant owned marketplaces throughout city Heights. And its number has been shared on WhatsApp message groups, all trying to reach the community where it's at the hope is that the counseling program meets all the needs of people at the moment of crisis, acknowledging that a financial crisis can easily segue into one involving someone's mental health. Our Speaker 5: 10:43 Community support navigators, a client reached out to her, said that he needed some help in paying his utility bill. He wasn't able to pay us utility bill. Um, and in that process, he opened up to our community support navigator that his wife had died of. COVID just a few months earlier, had our staff not been providing some of that essential, practical support upfront. He might not have felt comfortable opening up for Speaker 4: 11:09 Jamali. Who's already been doing this work for years. He's just happy to see there's a new generation of peer counselors getting trained. What he wants to see the most though, are mental health professionals and social workers coming out of the community. Speaker 3: 11:22 And with the next agenda additional, we want to make sure that the, we have our psychiatrist and we have like counseling in our community because, oh, we felt like a community members that needed people that they speak their language. The Speaker 4: 11:36 Program is slated to run through the fall. Its leaders hope that further funding allows for the program to continue. As long as the mental and financial impacts of the pandemic are still being felt. Anyone looking for help can call 8 8 8 2 2 2 0 9 8 0 maximum fund KPBS news. Speaker 1: 11:55 As we celebrate independence day, this weekend, we're going to take a closer look at some art exhibitions in San Diego that tell the wider story of who we consider to be American and what it means to have an identity linked with the land. Think of it as a mini art tour. Joining me is KPBS arts editor, Julia Dickson Evans, and welcome Julia. Hi Maureen. Thank you. Also joining us is cultural strategist and founder of the San Diego culture mapping project, Andrea and Jay Chandler. And welcome to you. Thank Speaker 6: 12:28 You, Maureen. Happy to be here for sure. Speaker 1: 12:30 First let's start in the north county with artists, Javier out again, Vegas and his new solo exhibition at the hill street country club. Andrea, you've studied this artist's work. Tell us a little bit about what to expect and why this work is important right now. Absolutely. Speaker 6: 12:47 Maureen, like you said, in your intro, I think we're looking with this exhibit and a few others at the many ways that Americans from different backgrounds connect to the actual physical land here. And you know, what that complicated feeling is like, and that feeling really comes across in Javier his work he's using organic materials, like a wood and very normal objects to tell these stories about how he's exploring masculinity, how he's connecting to the women in his life. And he's using colors and lines that, you know, would look really simple on a fast glance. But as you look into the story he's telling you're really, really taken in by the work and, um, his relationship to America and its values is really tested as an artist creating work. It's very 2021 Speaker 1: 13:33 Javier [inaudible] Vegas is exhibition. Anti Quado is on view. Now through August 20th at the hill street country club in Oceanside heading to north park artists, Kim Sweeney is in residence at art produce and there'll be a community potluck with her tonight. Julia, tell us about Kim Sweeney's work and how we can check it out. Speaker 7: 13:53 Yeah, so her work is really informed by food by intergenerational memory and her identity as a second generation, Cambodian American she's young. And I saw her work fish loop soup at domestic geographies earlier this year. It's kind of about the way her own American childhood co-existed with her family history. And she also has a piece called Boba accident. And I, I just really love her bold use of oil paint and vivid colors that make these memories and little vignettes just really loud and striking. And it's super fitting that this closing reception involves food Speaker 1: 14:35 Artists in residents, Kim Sweeney's community potluck will take place in the art produce garden tonight from six to eight in Sherman Heights, an unconventional place for art has a new curator in residence. Andrea, tell us about art power equities, Komal Martin, and which artist is on view next. Speaker 6: 14:54 Absolutely. So this is on Martin second showing at his residency with, um, JW communications. And so what he's doing is using this hundred plus year old Victorian house to show these works that are exploring so many interesting themes. And this current show with Andrew, um, lead, what we're seeing are his really large scale works being shrunk down. Um, so they're smaller, but there's such intense colors and conversations and that's kind of an art power and equities like at their base. They are trying to give a platform to artists of color, um, and other artists to have people look at their work in a different way to have their work be in a space where maybe they wouldn't have been seen before. So in this Victorian, um, home turned office there in Sherman Heights, you know, the viewers will get a chance to be really up close with this work, which is normal mural size. Normally, you know, he's working at a big scale, but he's using the walls. He's making new work. It seems very, very exciting. Speaker 1: 15:53 Andrew Alka seeds, flowers and fields exhibition will open Saturday with an artist talk at three 30 at JW communications in Sherman Heights in San Ysidro, a new group exhibition, just to open that aims, to imagine a post-colonial post gender future. Julia, can you tell us a little bit about some of the works? Yeah. Speaker 7: 16:14 And this exhibition is called and we will sing in the tall grass again, post-colonial future aids at the end of gender, which is an amazing and evocative title. It just opened with work by 13 artists. They're all kind of exploring a vision of a future without categories or without borders. And they're all emerging and young artists and curators all working in the Southern California region and all using a variety of mediums. Many of them look towards the past and the body. And one standout work for me is Larissa Rogers, her poetic of living. She gathered soil from two sites in her hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia that have ties to slavery. And she's mixing the soil at the gallery with soil, from the border here, forming it into the shapes of bodies and planting seeds that will grow over the course of the exhibition. So that's one of the words and Speaker 1: 17:11 Andrea, what does this exhibition mean in the context of American independence? Looking Speaker 6: 17:17 At them, the ways that artists of color have operated outside of traditional art pathways, um, July is pride in, in San Diego and I think that's high. Love it. The exhibit tells us that we're going post gender and this conversation about the intersection of non-conforming gender identities, as well as artists of colors. It's one at the forefront of the American art conversation right now. And as America turns 245, um, this coming weekend, it's really still figuring out how we exist and how many identities show up, um, racially class-wise gender. Um, so I think what's happening in Santa Seadrill is going to be really on point with what we're exploring this weekend. Speaker 1: 18:00 And we will I'll sing again in the tall grass is a group exhibition now on view at the front gallery and San Ysidro gallery hours are Tuesday through Thursday through September 1st for details on these and more events or to sign up for Julia's weekly arts newsletter, go to to learn more about Andrea's culture mapping project, go to culture mapping I'd been speaking with KPBS arts editor and producer, Julia Dixon, Evans, and San Diego cultural strategist and arts worker, Andrea Angie Chandler. And thank you both. Speaker 6: 18:37 Thank you, Maureen. It was a pleasure, so many good collaborations happening in the San Diego arts scene. Thank you for featuring them and Speaker 7: 18:44 Thank you, Andrea, for joining us today. Have a great weekend.

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Hate crime in California reached its highest reported level in more than a decade last year. Plus, a group of peer counselors in City Heights are trying to heal the community by connecting people to much needed resources and mental health services. And as we celebrate Independence Day this weekend, we’re going to take a closer look at some art exhibitions in San Diego that tell the wider story of who we consider to be American and what it means to have an identity linked with the land.