Governor Newsom signs legislation to crack down on hate crimes, protect targeted communities

CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR Gavin Newsom in a file photo with US President Joseph Biden Jr. during a recent visit in the state

SACRAMENTO – Amid an increase in hate-fueled violence across the country, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation to equalize and strengthen penalties for using hate symbols and bolster security for targeted religious and community-based nonprofits.

AB 2282 by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) brings parity to penalties for burning crosses and using swastikas and nooses. Currently, using a noose as a hate symbol carries the lightest penalty of the three while cross burning is the most highly penalized. Under AB 2282, individuals who use any of the three symbols of hate will be subject to the strongest of these criminal penalties.

“At a time when hate pervades the public discourse and violent extremism threatens our communities, it’s critical that we take a clear, strong stand against bigotry in all its forms,” said Governor Newsom. “California will not tolerate violence terrorizing any of our communities, and this measure updates state law to punish the use of universally recognized symbols of hate equally and to the fullest extent of the law. California will continue to lead the fight to stamp out hate and defend those under attack for who they are, how they identify or what they believe in.”

In addition, AB 2282 equalizes the restrictions on where the symbols can legally be used and expands restricted locations for each to include K-12 schools, colleges, cemeteries, places of worship, private property, public spaces and places of employment, among other locations.

“I’m so grateful Governor Newsom has signed AB 2282 protecting our communities from symbols of terror” said Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan. “This critical legislation ensures that vulnerable communities are protected equally against the use of terror symbols, such as burning crosses, nazi symbols, and nooses. I am proud to have been able to work with many stakeholders to ensure that this bill recognizes and protects a diverse group of Californians.”

Governor Newsom also signed AB 1664 by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino) to bolster the State Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which helps nonprofit organizations that are targets of hate-motivated violence improve security at their facilities. AB 1664 extends the program, which was set to expire in 2025, and enables grant recipients to fund additional uses, including security training.

The State Nonprofit Security Grant Program was codified under legislation by Assemblymember Gabriel signed by the Governor in 2019 following the Chabad of Poway shooting. This year, nearly $50 million in grants were awarded to 290 nonprofit community groups through the program, including houses of worship, reproductive health clinics and cultural centers.

“In a world where hate crimes and antisemitism are on the rise, we need more than thoughts and prayers to keep us safe,” said Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, Chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus. “This new law will provide critical resources to protect vulnerable communities and send a powerful message that California stands firmly with those targeted by hate. I applaud Governor Newsom for his steadfast leadership in standing up to hate and bigotry and thank him for signing this important bill today.”

Governor Newsom and the Legislature have funded a total of $115 million for the State Nonprofit Security Grant Program, and an additional more than $150 million to support other anti-hate programs that provide direct support for impacted communities and victims.

Earlier this week, the Governor named appointments to the Commission on the State of Hate, created by legislation he signed last year to track hate crimes, develop anti-hate resources and make recommendations to better protect civil rights. The Governor this week also signed an  executive order that will help protect communities against hate violence and discrimination by accelerating the launch of a California versus Hate Resource Line and Network, among other actions.

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