Edward Henderson | California Black Media | February 21, 2023
Last week, Assemblymember Corey A. Jackson (D-Riverside) introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 742, legislation that would prohibit the use of police canines for arrests, apprehensions and crowd control.
The use of police canines, supporters of the legislation say, is a throwback to the darkest days of legal slavery, Jim Crow segregation – and a reminder of America’s history of racial bias, aggression and violence against Blacks and people of color. Jackson says he wants to end the “deeply racialized, traumatic and harmful practice.”
“Since their inception, police canines have been used to inflict brutal violence and lifelong trauma on Black Americans and communities of color,” said Jackson at a press conference held to announce the bill. “It’s time to end this cruel and inhumane practice and instead work towards building trust between the police and the communities they serve.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) California Action, a co-sponsor of AB 742, echoed Jackson’s concerns. “The use of police canines has severe and potentially deadly consequences for bite victims, especially communities of color,” said Carlos Marquez III, Executive Director of ACLU California Action. “It’s time for California to take a stand and end this inhumane practice.”
Jackson says his stance on the use of canines in law enforcement is backed up by data. For him, it’s a “moral issue” as well.
“I let the data take me to where I need to go. And the data is clear that in some of the most consequential issues of our time right now – especially when it comes to the relationship between law enforcement and the African American community,” Jackson told California Black Media (CBM). “This was a no brainer for me. This is not a gotcha bill. Our
own data in California shows that we have it wrong, and we have to fix it.”
“The fact that canines are harming people more than batons and tasers is astonishing to me. I would never have guessed that” added Jackson who says he has already read three reports on the topic.
The California/Hawaii (CA/HI) Conference of the NAACP, another co-sponsor, acknowledges the bill’s historical importance. “Police canines have historical roots in slavery and have continued to be used as tools of oppression for Black, Brown, and other communities of color,” said Rick L. Callender, President of the CA/HI NAACP. “With this bill, we can begin to shift and sever ties with the terrorizing past.”
AB 742 does not call for banning the use of police canines for search and rescue, explosives detection, and narcotics detection – all activities that do not involve biting.
“The use of a canine is sending a dog out that will inflict injury on a person before that person has been accused of a crime or formally convicted of one,” said Kat Carell, a member of the Sacramento Chapter of the ACLU. “So, you end up with lifelong disfigurement, or mental problems, or you could be killed before you have ever been in a court of law and proven guilty of anything.”
Reaction to the introduction of the bill by police dog handlers and some law enforcement organizations — including the Western States Canine Association — was swift, charactering the bill as misguided and going too far.
Ron Cloward, President for the Western States Police Canine Association and a veteran of the Modesto Police Department, said Jackson’s bill does not “make sense.” He argued that if AB 742 passes,
it would take away one more non-lethal weapon law enforcement relies on to fight crime.
Cloward, who owns a canine training business, told ABC news affiliate in Bakersfield that while dog bites can be harmful and “disfiguring,” they do not cause death.
“Once you’ve deployed pepper spray, it’s been deployed. It’s gonna land. Once you use your gun, it’s gone,” he said. “Once you use a taser, it’s on its way. You’re not stopping it. The only thing you can stop is a K-9.”
Jackson was elected in November of 2022 to represent the 60th Assembly District. Before that, he served on the Riverside County Board of Education in 2020 and represented portions of the cities of Riverside, Moreno Valley, Perris, and the unincorporated community of Mead Valley.
Supporters say Jackson’s background in social work gives him a keen awareness and understanding of the microaggressions Black and Brown communities face.
AB 742 is one of many pieces of legislation Jackson has introduced (or plans to) that holds individuals and institutions accountable, creating room for even larger victories towards dismantling systematic racism. He calls the effort the ‘Antiracism Bill Package.’
Another bill in the package is AB 11. That bill would authorize the creation of a commission to identify sustainable solutions to reduce the cost of living in California. The commission would consist of 11 members, including nine members appointed by the Governor, the Speaker of the Assembly, and the President pro Tempore of the Senate. Also, one member each from the Assembly and the Senate would serve as ex officio non-voting members. The bill would require the
commission to complete reports describing the commission’s findings and recommendations.
Incidents of Hate Crimes Against Blacks Highest in California
Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media | Posted: July 11, 2022
A report released by the California Department of Justice (DOJ) last month revealed that hate crimes targeting Black people in the state “remain the most prevalent” violations regarding a recent increase in violence motivated by race.
On June 28, State Attorney General Rob Bonta hosted a press conference announcing the DOJ’s release of the 2021 Hate Crime in California Report (HCCR). The report presents hate crime statistics such as the number of hate crime events, hate crime offenses, hate crimes victims, and hate crimes suspects.
California law defines a hate crime as a criminal act committed in whole or in part because of a victim’s actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or association with someone with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.
Aggressions toward the Black community increased 12.5% from 456 incidents in 2020 to 513 in 2021.
“Today’s report undeniably shows that the epidemic of hate we saw spurred on during the pandemic remains a clear and present threat,” Bonta stated. “In fact, reported hate crime has reached a level we haven’t seen in California since the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11. As our state’s top law enforcement officer, I will continue to use the full authority of my office to fight back.”
A breakdown of victims by “bias motivation,” shows that 589 Black or African American persons or entities were victimized in 2021, and that 468 suspects perpetrated the crimes. 507 Black or African American individuals were victims of hate crimes while 42 business or financial institutions, 34 government agencies, and 5 religious organizations were affected.
At Bonta’s press conference, Jimmie Jackson, the Bay Area representative of the California-Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP and Vallejo branch
president spoke in support of DOJ’s efforts to combat hate crimes statewide.
“We are all tired of seeing our brothers and sisters of color being targets of hatred, discrimination, and racism,” said Jackson. “We are working (with the DOJ) on a project to stop the hate and to move us all towards collective justice across communities of colors through preventive services with funding awarded by the Department of Social Services.”
According to Jackson, the Vallejo NAACP has seen an increase in hate mail and hate-filled messages since the 2016 presidential election. In the Bay Area, the Black community is experiencing increased bullying tactics, physical assaults, and threats of deportation reports the Bay Area News Group.
In Los Angeles County, which is home to the largest population of Black people in the state, African Americans were disproportionately targeted in hate crimes (42%) involving race, according to a 2020 Los Angeles County’s Hate Crime Report. In 2020, the Black community in the county was 810,286 or 9% of the population.
There was a total of 1,763 bias events in California in 2021. Overall hate crimes increased 32.6% from 2020 to 2021, and they are at their highest reported level since 2001, the HCCR found.
Anti-Asian hate crime increased dramatically, rising 177.5% from 2020 to 2021, and reported hate crimes involving a sexual orientation bias also increased significantly, rising 47.8% from 2020 to 2021.
Amidst the surge in documented hate crime events, Bonta urged local partners and law enforcement to review the statistics provided in the 42-page HCCR report and to recommit themselves to taking action against offenses motivated by racial or other biases.
At the press conference, Bonta announced the creation of a statewide hate crime coordinator position within the DOJ’s Criminal Law Division to support state and local law enforcement efforts to combat hate crime.
“We will keep working with our local law enforcement partners and community organizations
to make sure every Californian is seen, heard, and protected,” Bonta stated. “Now, more than ever, it is critical that we stand united — there is no place for hate in California.”
Two days after DOJ released its report, U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman held a press briefing in San Diego that included an assessment of hate crimes threats, an overview of pre-attack indicators, and the best ways to report and mitigate threats of hate.
Grossman gathered key law enforcement and community leaders as a response to recent violent shootings, online white supremacist rhetoric, and a significant increase in hate crimes.
“Violent remarks by online extremists have resulted in public ‘tip’ reports to law enforcement, followed by a gun violence restraining order and successful federal prosecution. To ensure this prevention strategy is repeated, it is essential to arm our community leaders with information,” Grossman stated. “It’s important that the community members know they are not alone in this battle against radical
extremism, hateful threats and targeted gun violence.”
Hate crimes are distinct from hate incidents, which are actions or behaviors motivated by hate that may be protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of expression. Examples of hate incidents include name calling, insults, and distributing hate material in public places. If a hate incident starts to threaten a person or property, it may become a hate crime, according to DOJ officials.
Historically, hate crime data has been underreported. DOJ recognizes that the data presented in its report may not adequately reflect the actual number of hate crime events that have occurred in the state.
Nevertheless, the total number of hate crime events reported in 2021 is the sixth-highest-ever-recorded, and the highest since 2001 in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Bonta noted.
Jackson said that the NAACP California-Hawaii State Conference will work with California Black radio, print, and online media outlets to educate
ethnic populations to raise awareness of hate and bigotry in the state.
“These kinds of projects to combat hate are well overdue and the NAACP is proud to be taking a leadership position in the communities of color,” Jackson said. “We cannot continue to allow the forces of hate, racism, and discrimination to continue to run rampant without a fight.”
A copy of the 2021 Hate Crime in California Report is available here.