Gov. Newsom signs No Place for Hate Bills to combat hate and harassment in California

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Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed two Stop AAPI Hate-backed bills aimed at combating hate and harassment in public spaces in California.

The No Place for Hate Bills — SB 1161 and AB 2448 — were signed into law by Newsom in California on Tuesday. The bills will be effective starting Jan. 1, 2023.

The Increase Safety for Public Transit Riders bill (SB 1161), authored by State Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine), will promote safe ridership by increasing understanding of where, when and why street harassment occurs and how it affects transit riders.

SB 1161 will require the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University to create a community survey for California transit operators as a way to gather data in creating solutions and strengthening passenger safety.

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“We applaud Gov. Newsom for signing SB 1161 into law and sending a signal that there is no place for hate in California,” Cynthia Choi, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate and co-executive director at Chinese for Affirmative Action, said. “We cannot fix what we cannot measure.”

“No Californian should feel unsafe on public transit, yet study after study shows that a majority of women, seniors, LGBTQ+ riders, and other vulnerable populations experience street harassment or worse while commuting,” Min said in a press release. “This legislation puts forward a data-driven safety framework that will help us understand why these incidents keep happening. The new survey tool developed by the Mineta Institute is the first step in a strategic approach by the Legislature to address this issue.”

The Protect Customers’ Civil Rights at Businesses bill (AB 2448), authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), will direct the state’s Civil Rights Department to create a first-of-its-kind pilot program that will incentivize businesses to create safe and welcoming environments.

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“Customers have the right to feel safe in businesses, and workers need training on ensuring that,” Ting said. “Right now, our state’s civil rights laws do not adequately protect people who are verbally harassed and intimidated while grocery shopping or eating at a restaurant. My bill allows businesses to lead the fight against hate and create more welcoming and safe spaces for all Californians.”

Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition that tracks anti-Asian attacks, has documented nearly 11,500 hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) across the U.S. between March 19, 2020 and March 31, 2022. About three-quarters of the incidents reportedly occurred in public spaces, including on the street, public transit and businesses.

Although the bills stem from the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes, they will also benefit other minorities in the state of California. Women, the elderly, people with disabilities and LGBTQ-plus members have been common targets of public harassment on buses and trains, stores and restaurants.

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“This law names hate-based harassment as a pervasive problem. It is an essential first step in creating safer environments for customers,” Manjusha Kulkarni, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate and executive director of the AAPI Equity Alliance, said in a press release.


Featured Image via Kareem Hayes