Santa Clara County residents tell task force about hate crimes

For nearly three hours Friday, Santa Clara County's newly formed Hate Crimes Task Force listened to input from community groups in the hopes of addressing a recent spike in hate crimes. They're looking at everything from prevention programs to reporting of crimes and response.

From physical attacks to verbal ones, community members from all walks of life described their experiences as Santa Clara County's Hate Crimes Task Force listened for hours.

"This is all coming to the forefront now but it's been simmering in the background. It's been an ongoing thing," says Christina Johnson of the Vietnamese American Roundtable.

This move to the forefront is a response to recent attacks on Asian Americans. There have also been rallies at city hall, community patrols through Japantown, and an appetite for real change.

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"The situation is ripe for coalition building, I think. So yeah, I think it's a little bit different. I think the sense of urgency is a little different," says Kathleen Wong(Lau), chief diversity officer at San Jose State University, who is an advisory member of the committee.

More than 18 different groups shared their experiences, from Asian and African American perspectives, to Muslim and Jewish ones.

"There were a lot of very shared strategies, community education, education in the schools, creating public safety environments," says Cindy Chavez, Santa Clara County Supervisor and chair of the task force.

Representatives from the Vietnamese American Roundtable spoke about the fear currently in their community and about elders being afraid to go out.

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They say they hope what comes from this is action. 

"It's time to have a conversation about this and it's been a long long long time coming," says Johnson.

The task force will start taking its first action around community education at their next meeting April 23.