Speakers at the Jan. 25 Stop the Hate Town Hall identified the path to ending the violence against marginalized communities: Report all incidents of hate crimes, increase solidarity between impacted groups and build a community that supports diversity.
Representatives from the California Department of Justice and the U.S Attorney’s Office spoke about the dramatic increase in hate crimes locally and the importance of reporting them to law enforcement. If you are a victim of a hate crime, you are urged to
- Contact the local law enforcement agency right away.
- Get medical attention (if you need it).
- Write down the exact words that were said.
- Make notes about any other facts.
- Save all evidence (e.g., graffiti, eggshells, writing on the victim’s vehicle). If safe, wait until law enforcement arrives and takes photos.
- Get the names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mails of other victims and witnesses.
- Try to get a description from any eyewitnesses of the criminal or the vehicle.
- Contact community organizations in your area that respond to hate crimes.
Patience Milrod, a local attorney and a member of the Jewish community, appreciates law enforcement taking this issue seriously but said that “one of the most important ways to protect ourselves and each other is through mutual support and solidarity.” This was a theme throughout the town hall.
Following the event, Milrod said that “the panel of leaders was inspiring—so many differences among them, and still committing unanimously to solidarity, to protecting and supporting each other when any one of our communities comes under fire from hate groups.”
Sukaina Hussain, deputy executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Sacramento Valley/Central California, responding to a question from Lorin Hubbard about the need for groups to break out of their silos, said that “the key to our work is organizing our communities, and so I know all of our groups are building community power through organizing, which means being in relationship with each other.”
Eduardo Stanley, editor of the Community Alliance newspaper, said that the newspaper and the San Joaquin Valley Media Alliance “decided to organize town halls around the Valley in order to reach out to a larger audience to bring the issue of hate into focus, to discuss it and to educate ourselves on how to prevent it.
“Two town halls have taken place already—one in Huron and this one in Fresno. The next one will be late March in Madera.
“Each of these events allow us to reach different audiences, an expression of the rich and diverse society the Valley has become over the years.”
Cyndee Loryang, program manager at the Fresno Center, represented the interests of the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community. She reminded us that sometimes it is hard for members of her community to report crimes because of the fear of retaliation. She said it is important for law enforcement to be culturally sensitive when getting reports of hate crimes from the API community.
Speakers at the event included Jess Fitzpatrick, community outreach educator at the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission’s LGBTQ+ Resource Center; Naindeep Singh, executive director of the Jakara Movement; Jim Grant, chair of the Interfaith Scholar Weekend; and Pastor D.J. Criner, senior pastor of Saint Rest Baptist Church.
A presentation by Phillip Talbert, an attorney in the Eastern District of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, presented a slideshow on what to do in the event of a hate crime. Catherina Nou and Efrain Botello-Cisneros, from the California Department of Justice, talked about how seriously the department takes hate crimes and incidents in this region.
Daren Miller, Ed.D, was the facilitator of this town hall and the primary organizer of the coalition that led to the event. He is also on the board of the Community Alliance newspaper.
“It was a very successful event,” Miller said. “I think the best thing was we brought together various groups in our community and we got commitments from them to work together to stop the hate throughout the entire city.”
This Stop the Hate town hall was organized by the Community Alliance newspaper and the San Joaquin Valley Media Alliance and was made possible by a grant from the California State Library under the statewide Stop the Hate initiative.