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Collaboration between media, authorities can help stop hate crimes

stop hate crimes
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The rise of hate crimes in California and the U.S. has created widespread calls for action, so the Act Against Hate Alliance held the first in a series of anti-hate crime meetings, bringing together members of the media with other key stakeholders in the fight to stop hate crimes. 

Speakers at the Act Against Hate Alliance Media program included David McMurrin, Orange County Deputy District Attorney, Special Prosecution Unit, who spoke about the challenge of defining and prosecuting hate crimes and the importance of presenting the strongest possible case to bolster the likelihood of convictions. 

McMurrin emphasized the importance of reporting perceived hate crimes to law enforcement so that evidence can be gathered and decisions can be made by those in the best position to do so, and on whether or not to prosecute.

For his part, Detective Jan Wong, Hate Crimes Coordinator for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, noted that law enforcement in that area has taken actions such as collecting data and sharing it with other agencies to assist detectives with investigations of reported hate crimes.

However, he explained, the key to stopping hate crimes is to educate and work together.

"Two of the most important steps we are taking in our department are education and collaboration," Wong said. "We enacted department-wide education and training related to hate crimes...the basic thing we are trying to teach is what a hate crime is and how it differs from hate incidents."

He stressed that such hate crimes are being properly documented, which is "really important" for tracking and data, so that trends are understood and resources can be better utilized to target hate crimes in certain areas. 

"We collaborate with community organizations like this Act Against Hate Alliance and foster good relationships and encourage people to report. We provide different resources that make people feel more comfortable reporting hate crimes," she said.

Regina Wilson, executive director of California Black Media, stressed the importance of the role of the mainstream media in listening to the community, presenting balanced reporting and helping to build relationships.

"The work we're focusing on is making sure that the leaders of the communities know each other," Wilson referenced. "What we're hoping is that we can create communities that are well connected enough that, if there's a problem, we can talk about it and solve it."

Former California State Senator Bob Huff and Mei Mei Huff, co-founders of the Act Against Hate Alliance (AAHA), reiterated that the organization's primary focus is to stop the rise in hate crimes and propose solutions.

"This program was an excellent start to expose some of the most important issues," said Mei Mei Huff. "The solutions that emerged today were the key role played by education and strengthening collaboration. Both of these timely topics will be the subject of our next program in this series."

The next segment of the Act Against Hate Alliance will be held on October 12.

This publication was supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library.

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