Posted on May 19, 2021

California Attorney General Launches Racial Justice Bureau to Combat Hate Crimes, Police Bias

Anh Do, Los Angeles Times, May 12, 2021

California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta will create a racial justice bureau to combat white supremacy and biased policing as well as to explore the possibility of reparations for slavery.


“Taking on hate crimes will always be one of my top priorities as the people’s attorney,” said Bonta, the first Filipino American to hold the job. “No part of California is immune to hate.”

The new bureau will be staffed with six attorneys and a supervising deputy attorney general, who will work closely with community groups as well as law enforcement.

It will focus on four elements, Bonta said — taking on white supremacy and hate organizations; examining implicit and explicit bias in policing; reviewing best practices and issuing guidelines for law enforcement; and creating a task force to study reparations for Black residents.

The positions will add to the ranks of the attorney general’s more than 4,500 employees, though the cost of operating the bureau was not released.

Bonta, a former Democratic assemblyman, also promised to host a virtual gathering of California big city mayors to highlight regional issues involving hate crimes.

He believes hate crimes are vastly undercounted because many people do not report them.

Bonta hopes to offer guidance on how to deal with hate crimes in more languages besides English, and to allow people to report crimes in those languages.


“We know that hate and racism is not just an issue for the Asian community but for all communities,” said state Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), chair of the Asian and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus. “We have a rise in white supremacy, a rise in violent incidents across the country, we have insurrection at the Capitol and on and on. Certainly, to have something like this in California will make a huge mark.”


Also Tuesday, Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer announced that he would create a new hate crimes unit consisting of three prosecutors and two investigators.

Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas said he hopes Bonta’s bureau initiative will yield results.


Bias translates “into bad behavior that violates people’s human and constitutional rights,” he added. “I would hope that these ideas can lead to police accountability.”