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State Launches Platform to Report Hate Acts

The California Civil Rights Department has deployed a statewide website and hotline to offer residents a safe and anonymous method to report hate incidents and crimes.

The California Civil Rights Department (CRD) has launched a statewide hotline that provides constituents a safe and anonymous method to report hate acts.

The new platform is a direct response to the rise in reported hate crimes in the state, which have reached their highest levels since 2001, jumping almost 33 percent from 2020 to 2021.

“When we see hate, we must do all that we can to put an end to it,” said Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez during a press conference May 4. “The CA vs. Hate initiative doubles down on California’s commitment to do this by dedicating resources and dedicating more support — and also raising the level of awareness.”

The website clarifies that hate acts can fall under two categories. Hate crimes are defined under California law as criminal acts committed in whole or part due to the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim: disability, gender, gender identity, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation — or because of a person’s association with one or more individuals that has or is perceived to have these characteristics. The second category is a hate incident, which is a hostile expression or action that may be motivated by bias against a person’s actual or perceived identity. This could include incidents like service refusal or derogatory name calling.

This new program aims to help individuals and communities targeted for hate, including Asian Americans, Latinos, Black Americans and LGBTQ+ individuals.

There are two main components of the program: the CA vs. Hate website, and the hotline (833-8-NO-HATE). Reports can be made anonymously and are confidential, and those who are reporting do not need to disclose their immigration status. Both online and phone reporting were included in this effort as it would help create as many avenues as possible for reporting.

The reporting platform hosted on the CA vs. Hate website was developed internally by the CRD’s IT team as their expertise was documented and it would help ensure data security, according to CRD.

Hate acts can be reported in 15 languages through the online portal and in more than 200 languages through the hotline. This was made possible through the state’s work with LanguageLine Solutions.

There is a discrepancy among data about hate crimes between state and federal agencies, which suggests that data regarding these incidents is underreported. Distrust of government and fear were also cited by CRD Director Kevin Kish during the press conference as reasons individuals may not report these incidents.

Some people in these populations may not feel comfortable reporting such acts to law enforcement, but this program will create an alternative reporting pathway. Individuals also have the choice to report to a community-based organization that can report the information to CRD if that is their preference.

“We are coming together to take a stand, to strengthen our ability to combat hate through more reporting, more resources and better data,” Kish said.

The CRD said that the data from this resource will be aggregated — in a way that does not share any personally identifiable information — to help the state understand trends such as what resources and legal services people need and if particular parts of the state are disproportionately affected.

Additionally, the CRD supports the Commission on the State of Hate, which is charged with providing an overview on these issues, and this data will help inform legislation and civil rights work in the state.

Finally, it is important to note those calling into the resource get to decide how much information to report. Reports can be made anonymously and those reporting can opt out of any follow-up communications. However, if someone reporting an act is interested, they may request follow-up support through care coordination services. This will help connect callers with agencies that can provide greater services as needed.

This story first appeared in Government Technology magazine, Industry Insider — California’s sister publication.