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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

California started an anti-hate hotline. It received more than 1,000 reports after a year

Mina Fedor, the founder and executive director of AAPI Youth Rising, speaks about anti-Asian hate during a press conference at the California Museum on May 20, 2024. Fedor stressed the importance of having resources to report hate crimes, using the state’s anti-hate hotline as an example.  (Emma Hall/The Sacramento Bee/TNS)
By Emma Hall The Sacramento Bee

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Mina Fedor, who is Korean American, was in middle school when she learned of identity-based bullying.

It was the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, when reports of anti-Asian incidents and rhetoric were on the rise across the nation. One classmate told her to “eat a dog” while she heard comments like “go back to where you came from.”

Fedor learned what it was like to be treated as a foreigner in her own country, an experience many Asian Americans faced, she said.

She recalled seeing anti-Asian hate crimes from across the country and in her own community. The 2021 death of Vicha Ratanapakdee, a 84-year-old Thai American who was violently shoved to the ground and died in San Francisco during his morning walk.

“Kids just miles away from my home were walking to school with bats to protect themselves,” Fendor said. “Elders, including grandpa Vicha Ratanapakdee, were brutally murdered for just being Asian.”

A year ago, the state of California launched California vs Hate in response to a growing number hate incidents, like the ones Fedor experienced.

The hotline is a first of its kind in California and is offered in more than 200 languages. The anonymous program, funded by the state legislature’s Asian American and Pacific Islander equity agenda and the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act grant is also a partnership with California Black Media.

Since its launch, the program has received more than 1,000 reports of hate, the California Civil Rights Department announced Monday. Within those reports, four out of six people agreed to receive follow-up services, like legal aid or counseling.

During its first month, the hate hotline recorded 180 reports from the across the state.

The most common reason behind a report was discriminatory treatment, an analysis by the University of California, Berkeley’s Possibility Lab found. Sixteen percent of callers said they were called derogatory names or slurs. These incidents occurred most within a residential setting, according to 29% of respondents. Nine percent happened within a workplace environment or in a public facility.

Out of a subset of 560 reports, about 35% reported race and ethnicity bias motivation for the report. A 26% majority were classified as anti-Black, while 15% were anti-Latino and 14% were anti-Asian.

Historically, data in California for hate crimes have been “fragmented and largely imprecise,” said Russell Roybal, chair of the Commission on the State of Hate. This is due to a number of factors, like a fear of retaliation, a lack of culturally competent resources and distrust in law enforcement. Within undocumented and Indigenous communities as well as individuals with disabilities, there are significant data gaps.

A majority of gender-based hate reports were anti-transgender (28%), while 26% were anti-women. In terms of hate crimes and incidents deemed anti-sexual orientation, 28% of reports were classified as anti-gay.

Once a victim reports a hate crime to CA vs Hate, they are given the option to connect with a care coordinator and follow-up services. These coordinators are trained in “trauma-informed” practices, said Becky Monroe, the deputy director of strategic initiatives and external affairs for the state’s civil rights department. The caller is then assisted and given referrals for other resources over the phone. This process could be quick or take months, depending on the case.

According to the analyzed hotline data, reporters were filed from more than 80% of California counties.

But while the hotline has conducted outreach statewide, its data is not reflective of specific hot spots where hate is occurring, said Monroe. However, it is representative of where communities feel like they can report hate crimes.

“We are not reporting to say this is representative of where acts of hate are happening,” said Monroe. “We’re new. Part of what this is representative of is who we have reached effectively so they can start reporting, and we know those reports will continue to come in.”

The hotline is available by calling 833-8-NO-HATE, or (833) 866-4283, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Reports can also be filed online through the program’s portal.