Local Lawmakers Propose Hate Crime Prevention Task Force

The 19-year-old who sprayed bullets into the crowd at the Gilroy Garlic Festival referred to “hordes of mestizos” in a social media post hours before he slaughtered three and injured 13 other attendees. Less than a week later, a gunman at a Wal-Mart in El Paso, Texas, apparently targeted Mexican-Americans in his killing spree.

Though the Gilroy killer took his own life, the FBI is investigating the case as domestic terrorism. And in El Paso, the gunman could face charges for hate crimes.

Those and other ideologically motivated massacres have prompted Silicon Valley lawmakers to propose ways to combat gun violence and keep hate crimes in check.

On Wednesday, Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez announced a plan to team up with San Jose and other local cities to “develop a clear set of recommendations to address hate crime and violence incited by hate speech.”

“We have known that hate crimes have been a national problem for a long time,” Chavez said at a press conference unveiling the initiative. “And at a national level there is very little political will and there’s really no coherent plan that focuses on evidence-based strategies to start to address these issues.”

Last year in this county alone, authorities referred 25 hate crimes for prosecution. Just two of those cases resulted in convictions.

To carry out her vision, Chavez wants to form a task force and figure out ways to use existing laws to protect women, queer, trans, non-white and other systemically disadvantaged people from hate crimes. She also wants to examine the pathology of hate crimes and recommend “investments in law enforcement intelligence to combat the illegal gun trade to monitor the proliferation of the hate speech.”

Her proposal would also include school-based programs to stem the tide of toxic cultural forces that breed hateful and extremist ideologies. Like, for example, the racism made manifest this week in the white supremacist posters taped up on the SJSU campus.

At the mid-week press conference, Chavez was joined by San Jose City Council members Maya Esparza, Magdalena Carrasco and Sylvia Arenas who support the task force’s formation. Esparza lost her 6-year-old cousin, Stephen Romero, in the Gilroy shooting.

“I’m pro gun control, but we have a very real problem of hate speech inciting violence,” Esparza said in an interview. “There’s a clear link between racism and white nationalist propaganda and some of the violence we’ve seen in the community.”

“Communities of color feel attacked because they are under attack,” she added.

During the 2016 election, Arenas said her second grade son was told by a fellow classmate to go back to Mexico.

“This was the first time my son realized that others saw him differently and that he wasn’t considered American,” she recounted. “So I had to explain to my son what racism was and why people judge each other based on their skin.”

Carrasco said that Latino families in the past few years have become more fearful “to engage with their governments.”

“This intense hatred of immigrants, and specifically Latinos, are on the rise,” the District 5 councilwoman said. “And white nationalism and racism grouped with easy access to high capacity weapons, has created a dangerous mix that has resulted in the deaths of innocent men, women and children.”

Councilwoman Pam Foley—who’s established herself as a strong advocate for LGBTQ rights—didn’t attend Wednesday’s presser, but did sign the memo unveiled at the event.

The councilwomen asked that the county task force explore the impact of hate crimes on Latinos, the LGBTQ community and religious minorities.  The city Office of Immigrant Affairs, county offices of Immigrant Relations and LGBTQ Affairs as well as local religious institutions would all be involved.

Chavez’s proposal is slated to come before the county Board of Supervisors on Sept. 10, and the San Jose councilwomen’s complementary initiative will be heard by the council’s agenda-setting committee on Aug. 28.

Councilman Sergio Jimenez, who was at the Gilroy festival when those shots fired, authored a similar plan a week earlier. The District 2 councilor said he, too, would like to form a hate crimes task force, but he’d first like to gather enough data to form some constructive analysis of hate crime in the South Bay.

Jimenez said he wants the San Jose Police Department to pull citywide statistics on hate crimes in the last five years and provide information on efforts to address them.

He said his idea for the proposal came about “organically” after the Gilroy shooting.

“I don’t know if other council offices have this, but we get racist emails,” Jimenez said in a recent interview with San Jose Inside. “We get emails discouraging to different cultures and all that is very present. We live in a bubble and often time we see the national headlines and we think that doesn’t happen here and I think the reality is those sentiments, that bigotry it’s amongst us.”

He said he imagines the task force would address safety concerns and “prevent acts of violence motivated by racism, white nationalist, xenophobia and hate.”

“This reminds me of the dialogue around equity,” he added. “I think the dialog around this has the potential to be explosive and not something that’s talked about in the open.”

Rev. Jeff Moore, the president of the San Jose-Silicon Valley NAACP, expanded on that thought, saying he wants to see a cross-section of the community look at what types of programs are available to pull people away from hate groups.

When gang activity spikes in San Jose, the city responds with the gang task force, Moore noted. He said he wants to see a similarly concerted effort to curb hate crimes.

“I feel like we have the same threat for white nationalist and our county is not acting in a leadership role,” Moore said. “All the reports across the nation say that hate crime are a threat. Why aren’t we doing something about it?”

The policy ideas floated this week echo the spirit of what two victims of the Gilroy shooting told reporters soon after the attack.

When they first saw the gunman, 25-year-old Gabriella Gaus and her 23-year-old friend Brynn Ota-Matthews said they thought he looked like a “trained military professional.”

Days later, in the lobby of the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center off Moorpark Avenue in San Jose, the pair of survivors said it surprised them to learn that Santino William Legan was so young—just 19—yet so full of hate.

“So that’s a reminder to me,” Gaus reflected, “to check in on your friends if they’re getting into certain ideologies. Like, watch it. See where it goes. I think if someone just checked in on his mental health, this maybe could’ve been stopped.”

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase.

22 Comments

  1. >In this county alone last year, authorities referred 25 hate crimes for potential prosecution. Two of those cases resulted in convictions.

    Was one of those convicted for “hate crimes” the “Southern Poverty Law Center”?

    “The Southern Poverty Law Center is a hate-based scam that nearly caused me to be murdered”

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/08/17/southern-poverty-law-center-hate-groups-scam-column/2022301001/

    Was the other conviction for “hate crimes” the “Anti-Defamation League””

  2. Supervisor Chavez, you for once have to stop playing stupid. You and your women in your idiots’ group on women policy are the top aggressors to others. You have done nothing to stop the local corruption. People have reported to you corruption of local officials and law enforcement. You have done nothing. During your Conference on human trafficking this year two of your contributors from community solutions engaged in violations of privacy and confidentiality after receiving negative reviews from one attendee. They engaged in unlawful email violations sharing an employee’s private email with her employer as a way to get even for negative reviews Shay has engaged in equally damaging violations. You and other officials also work closely together with local agencies that engage in discriminatory practices. The reason victims will start sharing their private stories in local and national news is because this is the only way we will fight this local corruption. We will not only report local public officials but local agencies such as Gardner, AACI, Community Solutions, Faces, and others. You cannot attempt to clean others from the infestation that lives within you and those that work for you. SHAME ON YOU CINDY CHAVEZ!

  3. For the record, I’m really glad that Cindy Chavez and Sergio Jimenez are putting this task force together. That’s a step in the right direction to go after the real hate against many of these marginalized groups, and I too hope that the task force will, as Jimenez says, “…address safety concerns and “prevent acts of violence motivated by racism, white nationalist, xenophobia and hate.”” That white nationalism is indeed a dangerous problem which also exists on this left coast.

    • > That white nationalism is indeed a dangerous problem which also exists on this left coast.

      Can you offer the name of a fearsome white nationalist, preferably someone on the local scene, who would be an appropriate subject tor Chavez’s “Hate Crime Prevention Task Force”?

      How many local hate crimes do you project would be prevented by Chavez’ task force?

      I know progressives oppose the death penalty because there is always a chance that an innocent person might be punished. Do you think the Hate Crime Prevention Task Force might, in it’s enthusiasm to prevent hate crimes, actually prevent innocent non-haters from enjoying life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and freedom from intimidation, harassment, and mob action?

  4. SCC, from your comments in different articles, it has been clear you are part or at least an Allie of these local public officials that have caused so much harm to the community. It is clear you are most likely part of those supporting Chavez, Sergio Jimenez, feature in the Silicon Valley Asian Pacific American Democratic Club. Ash Kalra is a founder of this group. Nicholas Chan infiltrated in the San Jose Inside to promote this local insiders elites agendas that support and promote Sergio and Aisha. Google contributing significant money to these local agencies supporting and promoting these elite local politicians. The corruption is too big for you to try to cover up with your finger. I just hope SJI as a whole does not becomes part of the social circle of these corrupted people who advanced their agendas by means of connections to influential people and the money of google and others with special interest on how the city should run so they take advantage. I am sure your are an executive or board member of these special interest groups. Using Sergio as the Latino puppet that would help bring the Latino Vote is not going to work! It is too late to try to add Latino faces to the highly dominated East and South Asian political group finance by Google and supported by county supervisors, Liccardo, Rosen, and Citi council. We the people are ready to fight. We will fight you with our true stories of corruption and harm to our families by all these members of humanity morally trashy people. ENOUGH

    • Fexx, I don’t even know what you’re talking about. I’ve only heard of the SVAPADC just a few minutes ago, when you brought it up. I’m no board member of any political org, though I do pay attention and I do vote.

      I’ve seen you on this board always railing against insiders and corruption, usually barely ever related to the topic at hand. Makes me think you are a perpetual outsider, someone who likes being outside, and you see corruption in every last thing. That can drive a person mad.

      Stick to the topic at hand, and give some kudos to those who want to fix the disease that is white nationalism, anti-semitism, anti-LGBTQ, and all that mess. It only leads to bad outcomes for all, and what I’m seeing is SJI reporting that Chavez and other local leaders are trying to do something about it. It doesn’t always have to be sinister, we don’t always have to bag on any and all public leaders.

      • SCC if you want to do something about antisemitism then call out Omar and Tlaib. If you want to do something for the LGBTQ community, what about proposing DBS for Hamas and Palestine where the LGBTQ community is not welcome and threaten for their presence. Those bragging about tolerance and inclusion lack precisely that! This is precisely the flaw of the extreme left!

      • Cindy Chavez while most people living with mental illness DO NOT engage in acts of violence but on the contrary are the victims of crimes, a portion do. What locals in Gilroy know is the this young shooter was part of a very conflicted family situation the family court did nothing to help. This shooter chose to do this on Sunday. Local people in Gilroy know that Friday is the day where the locals go to the festival; there are discounts for locals the first day of festival. The family of this young shooter share the story of many families in this county cheated by family court system. He did not want to kill locals, his community. In his young life of significant distress, he probably did not have any other than WS. This case is not hate crime the same way the case of the young woman who killed herself WAS NOT cyber bullying. This is about domestic violence and others highly emotionally charging situations. You personally know quite of these few stories Cindy Chavez. Work on the roots of these social situations and systemic corruption not on covering the plants with black garbage plastic bags!

  5. “To carry out her vision, Chavez wants to form a task force and figure out ways to use existing laws to protect women, queer, trans, non-white and other systemically disadvantaged people from hate crimes. She also wants to examine the pathology of hate crimes and recommend “investments in law enforcement intelligence to combat the illegal gun trade to monitor the proliferation of the hate speech.”

    Ah, a demand for inequality and fascism all in a single breath.

  6. I do not see corruption everywhere SCC. People come to me and share their stories. Other times I am simply at the right time and place to watch these corruption stories happen. If you do not have the brain to connect all the dots, that it not my problem. As I said, people are ready to tell their stories, so you will hear them locally and nationally. There have been way to many people cheated by this system. People can only tolerate so much. The evidence is online. You just need to check their websites in a regular basis. The left is fighting two forces, the extreme left and Trump. If you guys think Sanders or Warren will win the presidency, you guys are dreaming. The centric democrats dislike the extreme left as much as we dislike Trump! Sanders? No way José! Those trying to deny our local corruption are similar to those trying to deny Trump’s racism and Omar and Tlaib’s antisemitism. Omar and Tlaib are finally starting to receive what they deserve from the democrats. Then their supporters stating the left is eating its own. We are not going to eat our own. We will simply show that not all democrats are created equal. United States should not be a place that belongs to the left or the right, to the straight or the gay, to the believer or the atheist…but a place where every person should be free to be their own. You are not giving to other what you want for yourselves! We know who are the extreme liberals in our county. You are one!

    • > United States should not be a place that belongs to the left or the right, to the straight or the gay, to the believer or the atheist…but a place where every person should be free to be their own.

      . . . and the sheep get along with the lions.

      . . . and the ants get along with the ant eaters.

      . . . and the gardeners get along with the foragers.

      . . . and the taxpayers get along with the tax eaters.

      I think Sir Thomas More proposed a name for your “place”: utopia (“no place”)

  7. “Hate” crimes are nothing more than using the color of law to go after political enemies. If hate crimes were used for punishing someone’s hatred, it wouldn’t matter what their politics was, would it? And truth be told, the rabid Left is more full of hatred than any other group, bar none. For just one example of many, look at Antifa’s rabid name-calling. Can anyone recall when they were charged with a hate crime?

    Every so-called “hate crime” is already a crime under statute. It’s just another way to stick it to political enemies.

    As pointed out above, the SPLC is far more guilty of hatred than the people who get charged with hate crimes. If anyone should be charged with hate crimes, it’s that gang of haters. But they’re never charged with hate crimes, are they?

    No.

    That’s because they’re on the same side of the political fence as the people who push hate crime legislation.

    Does anyone need any more proof that “hate crimes” are made for attacking political enemies?

  8. 25 so-called hate crimes referee for prosecution. Two convictions. What does that tell you?
    Cindy and her fellow snowflakes are gonna solve everything with a task force, full of their hand-picked cronies, who will issue a report, which will be ignored, as well it should be.

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