photo by lev radin | Shutterstock

Attorney General Bonta Discusses Hate Crime Prevention Efforts in California

By Kelby McIntosh, Freelance Writer

Concord, CA–Last week (10/21/2022), Journalists from across California met with Attorney General Rob Bonta for a sit-down to discuss the rise in hate crimes plaguing the bay area and other parts of California.

Many questions asked in the press conference highlighted various issues like what is a hate crime and acknowledging the gap between misclassified hate crime incidents. Despite answering many burning questions at the meeting, Bonta gave unsubstantial responses when asked about a time frame for hate crime legislation improvement and the government officials supporting these changes.

Bonta states, “I encourage prosecutors across California to set up hate crime units and understand and work with the community organizations where hate crimes are impacted the most … that communities impacted by hate crime should reach out to their local prosecutors.” When it comes to reported to hate crimes, there’s such a narrow view of what a hate crime is –in contrast, what can we do to protect ourselves now while legislation is still being decided? According to Bonta, the District Attorney can investigate if the victim can preserve as much evidence as possible. If the DA does not charge, you can (possibly) submit an Abuse of Discretion Review. 

In Bonta’s words, “you need proof of a hate crime. California has a very specific definition of a hate crime–you need proof that the crime is motivated by hate. Investigating hate crimes is very important to us, and the California definition of a hate crime is something we should look into improving.” What is California’s definition of a hate crime?

According to the State of California Department of Justice, a hate crime is a crime against a person, group, or property motivated by the victim’s real or perceived protected social group. You may be the victim of a hate crime if you have been targeted because of your actual or perceived: (1) disability, (2) gender, (3) nationality, (4) race or ethnicity, (5) religion, (6) sexual orientation, and (7) association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.

What are some key factors in mislabeling hate crimes in California? Bonta stated, “the core components of California’s definition of a hate crime are the bases. The key is properly identifying the hate crime and investigating it as such, and improving the education around hate crime.” Bonta stated, “we want to practice vertical prosecution. We encourage having one investigator to develop one throughline investigation and follow-up with the victims and community to ask those questions–the training and education in that tactfulness is important.”

The future of hate crime in California? Attending this conference only left me with more questions–while I understand the importance of cultural awareness and the need for California to improve its definition of a hate crime. Legislative concerns about who’s involved in improving hate crime laws and the budget dedicated towards hate crime bills are still buried under a thick layer of bureaucratic uncertainty. While I reveal in understanding how you can get the State of California Department of Justice to be involved in a hate crime case–I feel more skeptical of what’s being done. While you could debate that these changes take time, which you are correct, this only highlights the gap between government officials and the organizations within the communities that help at a ground level.

I think Attorney General Bonta has his finger on the pulse of what needs to be done. If anything, this gives hope that California is on track to improve–despite not receiving all the answers in our conference.   

For the next year we will publish news stories in THE HUB Magazine as well as release videos on all Sac Cultural Hub social media platforms with a series of articles focusing on recognizing hate crimes among communities of color throughout California with thought-provoking interviews. If you are of African descent (Black / African American) living in California, and you have survived a hate crime or incident, or you are a family member of someone who lost their life to a hate crime, and would like to share your story or testimony with THE HUB, e-mail or call 916-234-3589. With your help, THE HUB can attempt to be apart of solutions that heal the community while forging ahead to stop the hate. Thank you!

Michael P Coleman is a Detroit-born, Sacramento-based freelance writer, podcast and video producer and host, and content creator. Connect with him at

The Stop The Hate campaign is made possible with funding from the California State Library (CSL) in partnership with the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs (CAPIAA). The views expressed on this website and other materials produced by Sac Cultural Hub Media Foundation do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the CSL, CAPIAA or the California government. Learn more about the Stop The Hate campaign at:


Similar Posts