SACRAMENTO — Assemblymembers Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) and David Chiu (D-San Francisco) have introduced AB 557, a bill that will require the California Department of Justice (DOJ) to establish a toll-free hotline as well as an online reporting system to report hate crimes and hate incidents.

Assemblymembers Al Muratsuchi and David Chiu

This bill is being introduced in response to the spike in hate crimes, particularly against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hate crimes are crimes against an entire community, not just an individual victim,” stated Muratsuchi. “According to the nonprofit initiative, over 2,800 hate incidents have been reported across the country since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Moreover, the U.S. Department of Justice estimates over half of all hate crimes are never reported.

“A toll-free hate crimes hotline, along with an online reporting system, will allow victims and witnesses to report a hate incident against any group in a safe, anonymous manner, particularly those who may face language or cultural barriers or are undocumented. As a statewide law enforcement agency, the California DOJ should be the central clearinghouse of such reports to coordinate with local law enforcement and to provide support for victims.”

“Over the course of this pandemic, we have seen a horrific uptick in hate crimes targeting our API communities,” said Chiu. “We cannot stand idly by and allow this to continue. Having a centralized, statewide approach to tracking hate crimes within in a law enforcement agency will make all of our communities in California safer.”

Following reports of an increase in hate crimes nationwide, similar hotlines have been established recently in other states and in parts of California, including by the District Attorneys’ Offices of the City and County of San Francisco and the County of Alameda.

Muratsuchi represents California’s 66th Assembly District, which includes El Camino Village, Gardena, Harbor City, Harbor Gateway, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, Torrance, and West Carson.

Chiu represents the 17th Assembly District, which enompasses the eastern portions of San Francisco, including its central financial and governmental core as well as several of the more working-class neighborhoods of the city.

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