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City unveils its
hate crime plan

By Kurtis Alexander, Daily Planet Staff
Friday July 05, 2002

The Berkeley Police Department says that reports of hate crime have continued since May when city leaders first pledged to address the growing problem of racially- and religiously-motivated crime. 

Amid post Sept. 11 unrest, the first four months of 2002 brought an unprecedented number of hate crimes to Berkeley, ranging from broken windows at Jewish temples to anthrax threats aimed at Latino organizations.  

By the end of April, a number of anti-violence demonstrations had begun in the city, calling upon leaders to take action against the discomforting trend. 

Two months and nearly a half dozen hate crimes later, the city manager has developed a plan. He needs only the support of City Council to move forward with it. 

Among several propositions outlined in the four-page “Hate Crime Response” proposal are calls for specialized training of police officers, creation of a hotline to report hate crimes and rewards of up to $5,000 to people who provide information about hate crime perpetrators. 

While a lot of debate has ensued about how to craft the city’s hate crime policy, the holiday-week release of the proposal has not yet generated much reaction. 

Today is the official release date of the document, and Berkeley’s City Council is expected to weigh in on the plan at their regularly-scheduled meeting next Tuesday. 

“It’s really necessary that a city like Berkeley, which is usually a leader in civil rights and progressive thought, take action,” said Federico Chavez, member of the Latinos Unidos of Berkeley. Chavez has not yet seen the city’s proposal but was thrilled about its arrival. “Without this action, the ugly head of xenophobia will continue to rear itself,” he said. 

The proposed hate crime plan, funded through a restructuring of city resources and without additional moneys, also calls for the distribution of brochures about hate and the immediate eradication of hate graffiti. 

And in addition to training for police, the plan proposes hate crime training for safety dispatchers and employees of the city’s Department of Health and Human Services. 

Responding to concerns that the hate crime plan might favor certain ethnic or religious groups, the city manager’s proposal explicitly states that representatives from several ethnic groups will play a role in the plan’s execution. 

“Members of all affected communities will be consulted in creating training components,” the proposal reads. 

Furthermore, the city will convene a town hall meeting this fall to gather additional input from residents concerned about hate, according to the city manager’s Chief of Staff Arrietta Chakos. 

As part of the proposed police training, two homicide detectives will be sent to a one-week hate crimes training class, put on by the statewide Peace Officer Standards Training. 

The training falls short of establishing a separate police unit to address hate crime, like in Oakland and San Francisco and like many Berkeley residents had urged. But according to city officials, it’s the best way to deal with the issue given limited resources. 

The city manager’s plan was developed by a 10-person team consisting of employees from the city manager’s office, the police department, the city attorney’s office, the city’s Neighborhood Services department and the Department of Health and Human Services. Proposals submitted from City Councilmember Kriss Worthington and Mayor Shirley Dean provided the basis for the team’s deliberations. 

“We’ve been waiting for this [city manager plan], and can expect a thoughtful, meaningful response,” said Dean. 

Worthington, though, has been critical of Dean and certain councilmembers for not voting for hate crime plans he proposed in April. 

“We’ve missed many opportunities,” he said.