OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- A stunning new report says hate crimes in California spiked during the pandemic, more than doubling against those in the Asian community and nearly twice pre-pandemic levels for Black residents of the state.
Surrounded by citizen security volunteers, Attorney General Rob Bonta stood in the heart of Oakland's Chinatown to announce that hate crimes in California are at their highest level in more than a decade.
"We are in the midst of a racial justice reckoning," said Bonta. "For too many 2020 wasn't just about the deadly virus, it was about an epidemic of hate."
Members of the Black community remain the most often targeted in California, with anti-Black bias events up 87% in 2020.
In the Asian community, hate crimes were up 107%, and many victims may not be reporting.
"People are fearful of their status, in regards to if they're here legally," said Oakland City Council member Sheng Thao, "and so making sure they feel safe to come out of the shadows and report hate crime is going to be incredibly important."
"If you're facing a hate crime or are the victims of crime, please come forward," said Carl Chan, President of the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce and himself a recent victim of a hate crime. "There are solutions."
Bonta pledged more resources, including greater outreach to the public and to law enforcement and prosecutors on laws and penalties related to hate crimes.
Attorney general Bonta's commitment to devote more resources to hate crimes comes at a time when cities like Oakland are trying to improve their police response amid a shifting of millions of dollars from OPD to other violence prevention programs in the city.
"We will work with local law enforcement," said Bonta. "Local law enforcement is fully capable of addressing hate crimes."