LOS ANGELES – A panel of leaders from different cultural sectors of Los Angeles stood on the steps of Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration on Monday, November 14, to launch LA vs. Hate- United Against Hate Week.
Behind them, supporters stood with signs depicting the hands of two people of different races clasped together in unity under the words “TOGETHER,” and “JUNTOS.” Before the panel, a small crowd gathered in anticipation.
The rally was led by Robin Toma, Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, lead agency for LA vs Hate. Also present were Holly Mitchell, Chair, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, District Two, Esther Lim, Justice Deputy, Office of Supervisor Hilda Solis, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, District 1, George Gascon, LA County District Attorney.
Also in attendance were Maria S. Salinas, President and CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce & UAHW Honorary Co-Chair, Debra Duardo, Superintendent, Los Angeles County Office of Education UAHW Honorary Co-Chair, Martin Estrada, US Attorney’s Office, Central District of California, Shawn Landres, Immediate Past President, Los Angeles Quality & Productivity Commission & UAHW Co-Chair, Dean Chalak Richards, Dean of Student Life, Diversity & Belonging, Pepperdine Caruso School of Law & UAHW Co-Chair and Hildy Sterns , South Bay Social Justice Work Group Founder.
Each took their turn expressing their dedication to the Stop the Hate Initiative, and detailing the steps they would take to realize the initiative’s mission.
“The release of the commission’s annual hate crime report will confirm what we have been experiencing,” said Mitchell, addressing the crowd, “which is a historic rise in hate crime across one of the most diverse counties in the country. A county with the largest Native American population of any county in the nation, a county with the largest Armenian population outside of Armenia, a county with the largest Iranian population outside of Iran, a county in which two hundred and twenty-four identified languages are spoken on a daily basis. We can and must, my fellow Angelinos, be proactive. United against Hate Week provides opportunities for every resident to get involved, show our strength, and take a real stand against hate.”
In a panel discussion major focus was on stopping hate in the workplace and in schools.
“The chamber is committed to supporting businesses to stay abreast of changing business practices to make strategic, employee-centered investments that promote business growth and advance employment opportunities,” said the Chamber’s Salinas.
Dean Richards proudly listed competing schools, such as Southwestern Law School, UCLA School of Law, USC School of Law, and Loyola, stating that these institutions have come together with the shared goal of coming against hate. She stated that through the initiative, students and their families alike are being taught how to recognize hate and utilize resources such as the law to help them stop hate crimes in their tracks.
Sterns spoke regarding the anti-hate coalition’s community-wide event last Sunday with activities to raise awareness and bring the community together. On Tuesday, Stearns invited everyone to watch a free screening of the new documentary, “Race to be Human,” which will be followed by a panel discussion.
Finally, on Friday, she added that she encouraged everyone to take part in a moment of silence at 9:31AM to think about how Angelenos can support others within the community. Lawn and window signs will also be distributed throughout Manhattan Beach with the slogan, “Manhattan Beach Stands United Against Hate.”
Estrada announced the start of The US Department of Justice’s initiative called “United Against Hate.” The initiative will include local forums to connect community groups to federal, state, and local partners. The goal is to increase awareness about reporting hate crimes and incidents, and to create and strengthen alliances between law enforcement, government actors, and the community.
This past September, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced on September 15 during the White House United We Stand Summit, that over the next year, all 94 US Attorneys’ Offices (USAOs) will host a new nationwide initiative to combat unlawful acts of hate . The United Against Hate program is convening local forums that connect community groups to federal, state, and local law enforcement to increase community understanding and reporting of hate crimes; build trust between law enforcement and communities; and create and strengthen alliances between law enforcement and other government partners and community groups to combat unlawful acts of hate.
“The Justice Department remains committed to enforcing federal hate crime laws,” said Attorney General Garland. “That is why the Justice Department has launched its new United Against Hate program. This initiative brings together community groups, community leaders, and law enforcement at every level to build trust and strengthen coordination to combat unlawful acts of hate.”
On Wednesday, Estrada’s office will partner with the LA County District Attorney’s office in an LGBTQ+ portion of the United Against Hate Initiative.
The rally ended with the unveiling of a “Wishing Tree” art intervention inspired by county residents. All attendees were invited to contribute a wish to the art piece.