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Hate Crimes Up in California, Fueled by Hate-Filled Trump Era

An 11.2 percent spike



single-payer health care, gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo by Martin Jambon; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Remember that moment eons ago last June 14 when a lone gunman opened fire on Republican lawmakers practicing baseball, nearly killing House Majority Whip Steve Scalise? The two African American Special Agents prevented a potential massacre, with Agent Crystal Griner, a married lesbian, being credited with firing the fatal shot that took down the gunman. For a moment the country seemed unified as Republican and Democratic leaders came together over fear of gratuitous violence, promising restored civility.

In normal times, something of that promise might have stuck. But these are far from normal times and the uncorking of incivility, unconscionable bullying and violence that erupted out of Donald Trump’s campaign last year now reeks in the Oval Office. And Trump supporters love the stench of his crude attempts at machismo, not just slamming MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on Twitter but claiming she was “bleeding badly from a face-lift.” Asked about this new attack on a prominent female critic, Trump spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: “”The president in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence. If anything, quite the contrary. And he was simply pushing back and defending himself.”

Fact-checkers wasted no time in disproving Sanders’ assertion. Politifact, for instance noted this: “In February 2016, during his campaign for president, Trump told a crowd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, ‘So I got a little notice. We have wonderful security guys. It said, ‘Mr. Trump, there may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience.’ So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Just knock the hell …. I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise.’ As a review of the video shows, Trump is not smiling or chuckling as if this was intended as a joke”

Trump disputed Sanders himself a few days later, re-tweeting a doctored video showing Trump in 2007 body-slamming and punching WrestleMania CEO Vince McMahon, whose face is replaced with the CNN logo. CNN subsequently identified the creator of the video, who apologized but received death threats from his white nationalist Reddit pro-Trump group.

Trump won’t apologize since he thinks he’s never wrong. As he explained to Jimmy Fallon:  “I fully think apologizing’s a great thing, but you have to be wrong. . . . I will absolutely apologize sometime in the distant future if I’m ever wrong.”

To be fair, while Trump and white nationalist Trump-whisperer Steve Bannon promoted the destruction of civility as we know it, they and the Republican Party are not the only purveyors of violence. California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon has been receiving death threats for shelving a single-payer healthcare bill, at least for this year. Leaders of the California Nurses Association have been roundly criticized for circulating an image of a California bear with a knife stuck in its back and Rendon’s name on the handle. The LA Daily News reports that one tweet “said someone should check out Rendon’s schedule for ‘baseball practice,’ alluding to the recent shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise while the Republican team was practicing for the annual congressional baseball game.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former LA mayor and former union organizer Antonio Villaraigosa may have had his version of a “Sister Souljah” moment with his criticism.

“The organizations and leaders raising the temperature of this discussion to the boiling point should also pause and reflect on their own responsibility to dial down the rhetoric and return to a civil debate,” Villaraigosa said in a statement. “The supporters of single payer are not responsible for these death threats. But we are all responsible for elevating the level of our civic discourse and speaking out at once against violence and threats.”

“Is Trump teaching us that the way to get what you want is to bully them on social media and trash them in public?” asked Melissa Michelson, a political science professor at Atherton’s Menlo College. “It’s not working for Trump, so I’m not sure why the nurses thought it would work for them.”

But the message of hate has trickled down, as evidence by the latest hate crime statistics. On Monday, July 3, the California Department of Justice released its annual report on hate crimes showing an 11.2 percent spike—the second year in a row for double-digit increases.

In 2015, hate crimes jumped to 10.4 percent, compared to 2014, with hate crimes against minorities targeted by Trump—Muslims and Latinos (ie, undocumented immigrants)—accounting for the largest increase. Hate crimes against Muslims jumped from 18 in 2014 to 40 in 2015; crimes against Latinos went from 60 in 2014 to 81 in 2015.

There were 931 total “events” (a crime report) and 1,190 total “offenses” (criminal acts). The report says: “Hate crime events involving a racial bias increased 21.3 percent from 428 in 2015 to 519 in 2016. • Anti-white bias events went from 34 in 2015 to 56 in 2016. • Anti-black or African American bias events went from 231 in 2015 to 251 in 2016, an increase of 8.7 percent. • Anti-multiple races bias events went from 17 in 2015 to 34 in 2016. Hate crime events involving a sexual orientation bias increased 10.1 percent from 188 in 2015 to 207 in 2016.• Anti-gay (male) bias events increased from 108 in 2015 to 152 in 2016, an increase of 40.7 percent.”

There were also 248 offenses based on sexual orientation, 20.8 percent of the total, with gay men having the highest number at 180 offenses and 15.1 percent of the total.

Additionally, there were 25 anti-transgender events and 25 offenses with 2.7 percent and 2.1 percent of the total number of hate crimes respectively, though the report does not specific if the victims were trans women or men.
Los Angeles County reported 375 events and 437 offenses, way more than any county in California. Los Angeles had 227 events and 251 offenses; West Hollywood reported 7 events and 10 offenses; Long Beach had 8 events and 9 offenses. (Silver Lake, Atwood and Echo Park were not identified in the report and hence probably fell under Los Angeles.)

District attorneys throughout California had 118 total hate crime cases with dispositions for 2016, with 51 total convictions and 46 guilty pleas/nolo contendere pleas. Of those, LA DAs filed 43 hate crime cases, with 11 total convictions.
As is often the case after annual hate crime reports, law enforcement officials say the spike may be attributable to greater reporting. But that view does not square with the fear on the part of undocumented immigrants and their families and neighbors of being turned over by the police to ICE for possible deportation. Additionally, Muslims, African Americans and the LGBT community has a traditionally suspicious relationship with law enforcement and the broader communities, though that had been changing prior to Trump’s campaign, election and continuous bigoted comments.

Additionally, perhaps because of lack of resources, staff or specific evidence, previous communications between the district attorney’s office and the impacted communities have fallen to the wayside.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra understands that hate crimes target more than just the victim of the moment. “When someone commits a crime motivated by hate, it is not just an attack on one innocent person, but an attack on the entire state and our communities,” he said in a statement. “We can see from today’s report that words matter.”

And the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics gets it, noting in a new report that more than half the 250,000 hate crimes that occurred in each year from 2004 to 2015 went unreported and were handled in some other way. That report, too, cited racial bias as the main motivating factor for the crime, with more than 48 percent of the cases between 2011 and 2015; ethnicity was the motivation for about 35 percent; and sexual orientation accounted for about 22 percent.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the administration wants people to report crimes. “Hate crimes are violent crimes,” Sessions told officials, experts and advocacy groups at a summit on June 29. “No person should have to fear being violently attacked because of who they are, what they believe or how they worship.”

But that’s not how it works. “Many victims don’t report hate crimes because of personal and institutional reasons,” Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, California State University, told the Associated Press. Some LGBT victims, for instance may not report a hate crime for fear of being outed and thus lose their job or family.

Levin also called into question the whole system of police departments voluntarily reporting hate crimes to the FBI. “We have Columbus, Ohio, reporting more hate crimes than the state of Florida,” he said.

Does anyone care?

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9th Circuit Court of Appeals blocks lower court overturn of assault rifle ban

Benitez ruled that California’s three-decade-old ban on assault weapons violates the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.



SAN FRANCISCO – In a ruling issued Monday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay of U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez’s controversial decision to overturn California’s assault weapons ban on June 4. The ruling will be on hold until the 9th Circuit court decides on a separate gun control case.

Benitez ruled that California’s three-decade-old ban on assault weapons violates the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The state had first crafted the ban in 1989 and in the intervening thirty-two years lawmakers in Sacramento had repeatedly amended the law.

Benitez overturned the ban and likened an AR-15 semiautomatic gun to a Swiss army knife, calling it “good for both home and battle.” California Governor Gavin Newsom took exception to the comparative made by Judge Benitez remarking at the time;

“Today’s decision is a direct threat to public safety and the lives of innocent Californians, period. As the son of a judge, I grew up with deep respect for the judicial process and the importance of a judge’s ability to make impartial fact-based rulings, but the fact that this judge compared the AR-15 – a weapon of war that’s used on the battlefield – to a Swiss Army Knife completely undermines the credibility of this decision and is a slap in the face to the families who’ve lost loved ones to this weapon. We’re not backing down from this fight, and we’ll continue pushing for common sense gun laws that will save lives.”

The Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989 (AWCA) is a California law that bans the ownership and transfer of over 50 specific brands and models of semi-automatic firearms, which were classified as assault weapons. Most were rifles, but some were pistols and shotguns.

The case, Miller v. Bonta (previously Miller v. Becerra) had been brought by the  Firearms Policy Coalition, (FPC) which in 2019, developed and filed the suit as a federal Second Amendment challenge to California’s Assault Weapons Control Act (AWCA). The FPC argued that the State’s ban prohibits arms that are constitutionally protected, no more lethal than other certain arms that are not banned, and commonly possessed and used for lawful purposes in the vast majority of the United States.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta had appealed Benitez’s ruling. On Monday he said in a tweet; “This leaves our assault weapons laws in effect while appellate proceedings continue. We won’t stop defending these life-saving laws.”

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Orange County

Disney honors Pride month and keeps some pandemic rules for now

“I was lost, desperate to connect with someone who understood what I was feeling. That all changed when I arrived at Disneyland.”



Graphic via the Walt Disney Company's Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Division

ANAHEIM – The Walt Disney Company’s Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, (DPEP) is celebrating and honoring Pride this year, highlighting its LGBTQ employees as well as supporting a welcoming and embracing work environment where LGBTQ+ cast members are encouraged to be their authentic selves.

Writing for the company’s blog, Michelle Mockler, DPEP’s External Communications Manager profiled  James Heath, a Senior Duty Manager at the Disneyland California Adventure Park. Heath, who has been employed by the Disney company since he was 17, related his personal experiences with Disney that he said shaped not only his career as an employee but as a gay man as well.

In the winter of 2000, Heath applied for a job position in hopes of fulfilling a lifelong dream of becoming a cast member, a term that Disney describes it employees as. After several interviews, James was offered a cast member role as a Food & Beverage Host.

According to Heath, he didn’t realise that position working at Disneyland had just given him something far more important than a job… “It gave me a place to belong,” he told Mockler.

Mockler writes that just two years prior, Heath had made the decision to come out as gay. At 15 years old, he found himself as the only openly gay student in his school.

“While I was fortunate to have supportive family and friends by my side, I was missing something truly critical at this time in my life: Other people like me. I was lost, desperate to connect with someone who understood what I was feeling. That all changed when I arrived at Disneyland.”

At Disney, James found himself working alongside other LGBTQ+ cast members. He found people, with whom he could share stories, compare experiences and talk through challenges.

“Being gay was no different to my coworkers and leaders than any of the other countless qualities that make each of us unique.”

Twenty-one years later, the now thirty-eight year old Senior Disney Manager related; “Sometimes I wonder who I would be today had I not had this safe place to grow into my own skin. I was fortunate to have allies who courageously pushed against outdated ideas to give me a safe place to thrive.”

Heath says that he’s found himself in the role of leader, mentor, ally and advocate.

“It’s my turn to give back and help to further our culture of inclusivity. Somewhere out there, a future cast member is looking for a place where they can belong. I’m committed to helping them find it at Disney.”

As Disney celebrates Pride Month, this past week as the State of California lifted most of the restrictions imposed by California state and local health officials and Governor Gavin Newsom. However, Disney officials have decided to keep in place for the time being some of those measures.

“I don’t want to say we are going to go back to the way it was,” Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, said Thursday about managing the parks. “I want to be really smart in the way we do this.”

The parks at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim in Orange County are continuing to reopen in phases, but a handful of the COVID-era changes are going to stick.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times this past week, D’Amaro said that the company is poised to keep “in place a reservation system that was adopted to manage visitor numbers under the state-imposed capacity limits and the continued use of a virtual queuing system that was designed to give all parkgoers a shot at visiting the most popular attractions.”

Currently valid theme park admission as well as a confirmed park reservation about both required if a guest wishes to visit either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure. Park Pass Reservations are also currently required at Disney World.

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Newsom ushers in state’s full reopening at Universal Studios Hollywood

California was one of the only states to achieve a week-over-week increase rate of vaccinations, most recently with a 22% increase



Governor Gavin Newsom ushers in state's reopening at Universal Studios (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor of California)

STUDIO CITY – As California moved to fully reopen the economy Tuesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom welcomed the milestone at Universal Studios Hollywood, where he highlighted the attractions Californians can look forward to revisiting this summer.

Starting today, June 15, the restrictions that have been in place over the past year will be eliminated, including physical distancing, capacity limits, county tier systems and masks in almost all settings for vaccinated Californians.  The Golden State was one of the only states in the country to achieve a week-over-week increase in the rate of vaccinations, most recently with a 22 percent increase in vaccinations.

“Today, we celebrate the incredible strength and resilience of Californians – from our heroic health care workers to essential workers across the board to everyday Californians from all walks of life – who have supported each other through hardship and heartache over the past year, making sacrifices to save countless lives and enable us to turn the page on this pandemic,” said Newsom. “As we look ahead to better days, we will continue to look out for one another, redoubling our support to those hit hardest by the pandemic and making unprecedented investments to address California’s most persistent challenges, so that the entire state comes roaring back together.”

Newsom also selected 10 lucky Californians to receive $1.5 million each – for a total of $15 million – as part of the final cash prize drawing in the state’s Vax for the Win program. 30 prior winners won a total of $1,500,000.

Tuesday’s selection of 10 $1.5 million winners caps off the cash prize giveaways as part of the $116.5 million Vax for the Win program – the largest vaccine incentive program in the nation. The program previously selected 30 winners to receive $50,000 each, for a total of $1,500,000. In addition, the program is providing $100 million in $50 prepaid or grocery cards for newly vaccinated people, while supplies last. Governor Newsom also highlighted the upcoming California Dream Vacations, a new Vax for the Win incentive in which vaccinated Californians have the chance to win one of six in-state vacation packages in a drawing on July 1.

In a press release, the Governor’s office touted his administration’s accomplishments that had been spread out over the duration of the pandemic in the past 15 months.

  • California is forecasted to outpace the country’s economic recovery, ranked as the No. 1 U.S. economy for “expanding GDP, raising household income, investing in innovation,” and more.
  • California is creating more jobs than any other state for three months in a row, adding 385,000 jobs; in April alone, California created 38 percent of the nation’s jobs.
  • The state consistently has amongst the lowest case rates and transmission rates in the nation, and hospitalizations dipped to the lowest point since March 2020.
  • More than 40 million vaccinations have been administered in California, surpassing the next closest state by 16 million, with over 70 percent of adults having at least one shot. 

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health noted that at the peak of the pandemic the County was losing 277 residents a day. Hospitals were under enormous strain, with more than 8,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 and there were more than 15,000 new cases diagnosed each day.

L.A. County is in a better place than any other metro area of similar size in the entire nation. Each day, on average, only 1.5 cases per 100,000 people are diagnosed in L.A. County, compared with 2.8 cases in the same population in the New York City metro area, 2.9 cases in Chicago, 3.5 cases in Atlanta, 5.3 cases in Houston, and 9.1 cases in Miami. Only 0.4% of COVID-19 tests in L.A. County are positive, compared with 0.8% in New York, 1.3% in Chicago, 1.7% in Atlanta, 3.3% in Houston, and 3.7% in Miami.

Over the past six months, the tremendous effort to get the vaccine into the arms of residents has gotten the County to a place where as of June 11, more than 5,490,637 (66%) of eligible L.A. County residents have received one dose of the vaccine and 4,668,783 (56%) are fully vaccinated.

“After 16 months of enormous upheaval and loss, we can now move forward with a genuine sense of hope. We can and should feel joy while recognizing and honoring the immense collective effort that brought us to the point where we can fully reopen. We remain committed to protecting your health and to closing gaps in health outcomes associated with COVID-19.,”said Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health.

“Case counts and transmission are low because of our shared efforts to implement a layered approach to preventing transmission.  As we reopen, we are mindful that for those not yet vaccinated, protection is highly dependent on our continued actions to take care of each other. Sensible protections for our essential workforce will be instrumental in keeping transmission of COVID-19 in check,” she added.

Unvaccinated people need to remain very careful and wear masks when they are around people outside their household, and if in close contact with others, including at worksites, they should consider upgrading their masks to a respirator, such as an N95, or a KN95.  These masks do a much better job protecting the wearer from other people’s germs, a spokesperson for Public Health said.

Public Health continues to urge unvaccinated people to get vaccinated. Through Thursday, June 17 at County-run vaccination sites, participating LA city and mobile sites, and St. John’s Well Child and Family Center sites, everyone 18 and older coming to get their first vaccine or who brings a first-time vaccine recipient with them to their second dose appointment, will have an opportunity to win a pair of season tickets to the 2021-2022 home season of the Clippers, the Rams, or the Chargers. Official rules and participating site locations are posted online on the Los Angeles County Vaccination Sweepstakes page.  Winners will be contacted by phone and/or email.

To find a vaccination site near you, to make an appointment at vaccination sites, and much more, visit: (English) and (Spanish). If you don’t have internet access, can’t use a computer, or you’re over 65, you can call 1-833-540-0473 for help finding an appointment, connecting to free transportation to and from a vaccination site, or scheduling a home-visit if you are homebound.  Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status.

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