ANAHEIM, Calif. (KABC) — It’s been one year since a mass shooting at a Laguna Woods church left one person dead and five others injured.
Authorities said the suspect was fueled by hate toward people from Taiwan and on the anniversary of the shooting Monday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta held a roundtable discussion in Anaheim with city and community leaders on hate crimes.
The group discussed ways to address the rise in these types of incidents.
“From a long-term strategy that includes education, cross-cultural awareness, ethnic studies so that more understanding of different groups, their experiences, the hate that they’ve endured, the discrimination that they face is understood,” said Bonta.
Data from the California Department of Justice shows there were around 1,800 hate incidents in the state in 2021, a level that hasn’t been seen since the early 2000s.
In Orange County, 95 hate crimes were reported in 2021, the most since 2001. However, Bonta said the number could be much higher because hate crimes are often underreported.
“They think there could be retaliation. They think maybe something won’t be done if they do report and it might not be worth their time,” he said.
Anaheim Mayor Ashleigh Aitken said working with different groups would help residents know it is safe to speak up.
“We can use our communication channels to make sure people are educated, not just on where to report a hate crime but what is a hate crime so that it’s not normalized and it doesn’t just go undiagnosed as a symptom in our city,” she said.
Bonta said the roundtable helped flag many of the issues and doesn’t want anyone to live in fear.
“Freedom from violence, from discrimination, from being attacked because of who we are, where we’re from, how we look, how we pray, who we love is, is fundamental,” Bonta said.
Community and state leaders said the most important thing anyone can do if they are involved in a hate incident is to report it immediately.