Attorney General Launches New Racial Justice Bureau

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Bonta announces virtual convening against hate crime with mayors

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OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta on May 11 launched the Racial Justice Bureau (Bureau) within the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and announced plans for a virtual convening against hate crime with California’s big-city mayors.

Together, the bureau and virtual convening are a part of the state’s newest efforts to lead the development of strategies to address bias and hate at their roots and to strengthen responses to hate crime in California.

Rob Bonta

The bureau will initially bring six new attorneys and a supervising deputy attorney general to DOJ’s Civil Rights Enforcement Section to help tackle some of California’s most pressing racial and social justice issues head-on. Given the recent reported rise in hate crimes and incidents against members of the Asian Pacific Islander community in particular, Bonta is recommitting DOJ to further engaging with communities across the state to identify pathways for better serving the needs of all those facing hate.

“Throughout California’s history, too many of us have felt the sting of hate and discrimination,” said Bonta. “The fact is: No part of California is immune to hate. Too many Asian, Latino, Black, Native American, people with disabilities, LGBTQ, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh Californians all across the state are hurting. It’s going to take all of us working together to take on bias and hate and their toxic effects on our society.

“As part of that, I’m launching a Racial Justice Bureau within the California Department of Justice and working to help bring together many of our major local elected leaders in common cause against hate. We must recommit ourselves to doing everything we can to better serve the needs of all Californians. All of our communities deserve to be seen, to be valued, and to be protected.”

“The mayors of California’s 13 largest cities look forward to working with Attorney General Bonta to combat hate crimes and discrimination in every form,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, chair of the Big City Mayors. “It will take all of us standing up for our wonderfully diverse community members to make California a welcome home for all.”

Across California and the country, hate crimes and incidents persist and continue to have a toxic effect on all communities. Addressing this challenge will require the development of affirmative strategies that employ best practices and can be implemented across jurisdictions in order to quickly and decisively prevent and respond to hate. Strengthening DOJ’s capacity is one component of that effort.

Operating out of the Civil Rights Enforcement Section, the Racial Justice Bureau will initially bring six new attorneys and a supervising deputy attorney general to the section to assist with ongoing work on a broad range of significant civil rights and constitutional matters — including working to address hate crimes — on behalf of the State of California. Importantly, the attorneys will increase focus on racial and social justice issues across DOJ’s civil rights work and support new and ongoing efforts to protect all Californians.

Specifically, the bureau will support DOJ’s broader mandate to advance the civil rights of all Californians and, among other things, assist with new and ongoing efforts on:

• Hate crimes and organizations, taking on the insidious effects of white supremacy and hate organizations on our society and stepping up outreach with community organizations and law enforcement on hate crime prevention, information sharing, and reporting;

• Implicit and explicit bias in policing, launching and supporting investigations as appropriate and recognizing the urgent need to strengthen trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve;

• Law enforcement best practices, issuing guidance to local law enforcement, prosecutors, and other public entities regarding shared challenges in providing for public safety;

• Campus climate issues, including conducting and supporting investigations into overly punitive, discriminatory policies where they arise and working to find innovative ways to strengthen diverse, equitable, and inclusive school environments;

• Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans, assisting with the implementation of the new task force as authorized under Assembly Bill 3121.

Complementing DOJ’s internal efforts to combat hate through the creation of the bureau, the attorney general will host a virtual convening with Big City Mayors at the end of the month to help increase information sharing and work to identify new, innovative solutions for tackling shared challenges, as well as highlight existing regional resources and actionable steps that can be taken by all Californians to fight back against hate. Drawing on the expertise of local elected leaders, the virtual convening will seek to raise awareness around regional concerns involving hate crimes, support those who have been impacted by hate, and secure commitments for direct action across California.

Big City Mayors represents the state’s 13 largest cities and more than a quarter of California’s residents. Members of the coalition are Los Angeles, San Diego, San José, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, Oakland, Bakersfield, Anaheim, Riverside, Santa Ana, and Stockton.

For those who are interested, the Racial Justice Bureau is now hiring and seeking qualified candidates to join a dynamic team of attorneys utilizing the authority of the attorney general to advance civil rights, social justice, and racial equity in California. Bonta urges people of all backgrounds to consider a career at DOJ and learn more about joining the team here: https://oag.ca.gov/careers

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