District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today her office has set up a new online form and hotline where the public can report suspected hate crimes they’ve witnessed in San Diego County. The tool is partly in response to reports of hate-related incidents aimed at the Asian community across the nation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the arrest of a 66-year old man in San Diego, who physically attacked a man he perceived to be Chinese-American. [TWEET THIS]
“Fighting hate crimes in all its forms is a priority for my office and these crimes won’t be tolerated,” said District Attorney Summer Stephan. “The COVID-19 health crisis has created some concern among victims of crime who may be unsure if law enforcement and prosecutors con-tinue to be ready to protect the community as they respond to the pandemic. I can assure you that we are.”
“This reporting tool facilitates access to justice for San Diego County’s diverse communities,” Stephan said. “This tool can be used to report suspected hate crime against anyone, but we’re especially concerned right now that the Asian community will become targets of hate crime as we continue to respond to this pandemic. We know that people often don’t report hate crimes because of fear or shame, and we wanted to provide a direct avenue to encourage victims or witnesses to hate crimes to report. People can and should continue to report hate crimes to their local police departments and Sheriff’s Department. This additional reporting mechanism will act as a safety net and help ensure reports are reviewed and shared by law enforcement.”
Individuals submitting information about a suspected hate crime will be contacted with infor-mation about the DA’s review of the report and any action that may be taken. The public is reminded that hate speech in and of itself often does not rise to the level of a hate crime, but it could escalate to criminal behavior. By law, a hate crime is a criminal act committed against an-other person that is motivated by prejudice against certain characteristics of that person.
In 2019 and 2018, the District Attorney’s Office filed hate crime charges against 30 individuals. The number represents a continued increase from cases filed in previous years. Historically, race-based hate crimes make up between 50 and 60 percent of all hate crimes in the County.
Read more about hate crimes, here.
Meet the Deputy DA who leads the DA’s Hate Crimes prosecutions and prevention outreach.