CALIFORNIA Governor Gavin Newsom has strengthened the arsenal of forces fighting hate for Asian American and Pacific Islander by signing two and more related new bills into law.
Newsome signed Senate Bill1161 to fund efforts to engage public transit operators to protect passenger safety and AB2448 to encourage businesses to create a safe environment for customers.
The new laws were sponsored by Stop AAPI Hate, the coalition born in 2020 to combat the wave of hate-fueled attacks against people of Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage when the e coronavirus pandemic first hit the United States.
“No Californian should feel unsafe on public transit, yet study after study shows that a majority of women, seniors, LGBTQ+ riders, and other vulnerable populations experience street harassment or worse while commuting,” said state Sen. Dave Min (D-Irvine), who authored SB1611.
The legislation requires and funds the Mineta Transportation at San Jose State University to develop a survey tool for state transit operators to help document rider experiences. The demographic information would help Stop AAPI Hate in documenting nationwide hate and harassment.
“This legislation puts forward a data-driven safety framework that will help us understand why these incidents keep happening. The new survey tool developed by the Mineta Institute is the first step in a strategic approach by the Legislature to address this issue,” Min added.
“Customers have the right to feel safe in businesses, and workers need training on ensuring that. Right now, our state’s civil rights laws do not adequately protect people who are verbally harassed and intimidated while grocery shopping or eating at a restaurant,” said Assembly Member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), author of AB2448. “My bill allows businesses to lead the fight against hate and create more welcoming and safe spaces for all Californians.”
Stop AAPI Hate leaders hailed the new laws. To date, the coalition has documented over 11,000 incidences of hate against AAPIS. Majority of the attacks are verbal, but some have been physical and fatal. Most of the victims are women.
Cynthia Choi, co-founder at Stop AAPI Hate and co-executive director at Chinese for Affirmative Action, lauded the governor for signing SB1611. “We cannot fix what we cannot measure. SB 1161 opens the door to data-driven policy solutions by naming the problem of street harassment on public transit, developing a tool for transit systems to measure its impact, and providing an avenue for public transit riders to share their experiences.”
Manjusha Kulkarni, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate and executive director of the AAPI Equity Alliance, also acknowledged Newsom, saying. “This law names hate-based harassment as a pervasive problem. It is an essential first step in creating safer environments for customers.”
Meanwhile Newsom also signed AB 2282 by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) equally criminally penalizing burning crosses and using of swastikas and nooses.
Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino)’s AB 1664 extends and fortifies the State Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which helps nonprofit organizations that are targets of hate-motivated violence improve security at their facilities.
Cherie M. Querol Moreno is Executive Editor of Philippine News Today. She is the Founder and Executive Director of the abuse prevention nonprofit ALLICE Alliance for Community Empowerment.