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California’s new attorney general has vowed to focus on hate crimes in response to the spate of anti-Asian incidents recorded in the state.
Rob Bonta, who is Filipino American, detailed his plan on Tuesday in his first press conference since he was sworn in to replace Xavier Becerra last month.
A new bureau: Bonta is creating a new Racial Justice Bureau within his California Department of Justice to deal with hate crimes.
The bureau will fall under the department’s Civil Rights Enforcement Section and be composed of six new attorneys and a supervising deputy attorney general.
Bonta said the bureau is a partial response to the surge in anti-Asian hate crimes over the past year, according to The Mercury News.
“Make no mistake, right now we’re in a full on state of crisis, a full on state of emergency, when it comes to hate violence against the Asian-Pacific Islander community,” Bonta said, according to AP News.
Other hate-related and social justice issues: Aside from anti-Asian hate crimes, Bonta’s new bureau will deal with extremist groups, tackle bias in policing, issue guidelines for law enforcement, address campus climate issues and assist with reparations for descendants of slavery.
The bureau will investigate groups such as white supremacist organizations “when appropriate,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
It will also work with local police to share “best practices” for hate crime investigations and identifying implicit bias in policing.
A new task force dedicated to studying reparations for African Americans is entirely new for the department, Bonta said.
The Attorney General acknowledged that prosecuting hate crimes is difficult due to the high burden of proof required. He also believes that such crimes are vastly underreported.
“Taking on hate crimes will always be one of my top priorities as the people’s attorney,” Bonta said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “No part of California is immune to hate.”
Featured Image Screenshot via California Department of Justice
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