Hate Crimes and Hate Speech During COVID-19 Crisis

During this period of unprecedented crisis, standing together and supporting each other as a community has never been more important. We are the 4th most diverse county in the United States. The sudden increase in hate fueling speech and criminal acts targeted against members of the Asian community, particularly against Chinese Americans, who live and work in Alameda County is entirely intolerable. As a community, we are better than this.

“The District Attorney’s Office never stands idle in the face of hate speech. Let me be very clear: where hate speech leads to criminal activity driven by xenophobia, racism, or discrimination, my office will investigate and prosecute offenders,” declares District Attorney Nancy O’Malley.

The District Attorney has directed her office to be on heightened alert during this time of crisis and will be vigilant and swift in response to reports of hate crimes. DA O’Malley states “We will protect all members of our communities against hate driven violence. Hate and racist driven conduct is spreading as rapidly as the COVID-19 pandemic, often felt most critically in Chinese communities around the county.”

Community and local government partners express concern as well.

“I sincerely thank Nancy O’Malley for her work to address the issues of xenophobia and hate crimes which are hurting many families in our community. During this crisis, we should focus our energy to care for our families, our children and the elderly. Let’s support our medical providers, police, fire fighters, government leaders, nonprofit organizations, businesses, tenants and homelessness. It’s time to say “I love you” to those you care and say goodbye to “Hate”. Let’s channel our positive energy to build a better world together,” states Carl Chan, President, Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce.

“Fremont has always been a compassionate city; a place where residents celebrate diversity,” Mayor Lily Mei said. “With the increase in xenophobia and hate crimes in our broader nation stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to send a clear message that we will not tolerate hate in Fremont. I encourage each and every one of our residents to report any incidents you may witness or be a victim of to the Fremont Police Department. Now more than ever before, we need to remain unified as a community and be kind to those around us.”

The City of Fremont has a downloadable brochure on Hate Crimes available online at: www.Fremont.gov/HateCrime.

If the conduct is racist speech by an identified individual, the District Attorney’s Office will engage with that individual on an official basis. If the conduct is criminal, we will prosecute the offender.

It does not help that the President of the United States refers to this international pandemic as the “Chinese virus.” The District Attorney as well as all county leaders call out to our community members to reject the President’s xenophobic speech and to stand together as a country, state and county, to mitigate this virus that knows no borders.

There is no place in Alameda County for hate motivated conduct or hate driven words based on race, gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Everyone has the right to be safe and protected. The Alameda County DA’s Office asks that any person who is victimized report the conduct. Witnesses to such actions are also asked to make a report.

The District Attorney’s Office maintains a hate crime hotline available for the reporting of hate-related crimes: 510-208-4824 (with outgoing messages in English, Spanish, Farsi, Mandarin, Cantonese and Tagalog).

For reference:

“Hate crime” means a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim:

(1) Disability.

(2) Gender.

(3) Nationality.

(4) Race or ethnicity.

(5) Religion.

(6) Sexual orientation.

(7) Association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.

A hate crime is punishable with up to a year in the county jail. A felony committed with a hate crime enhancement can increase a defendant’s prison sentence.

Posted on Apr 4, 2020