As anniversary of the violence and hate in Charlottesville approaches, we at OC Human Relations continue to stand against hate, white supremacy and bigotry in every form and in solidarity with people and communities who are the targets of hate speech and hate crimes.

Less than six months after Charlottesville, hate once again came to our county when Blaze Bernstein was tragically and brutally murdered. A week ago, the long-awaited confirmation that hate crime enhancements will be added to the charges of the Blaze Bernstein’s alleged attacker was announced.

These events are stark reminders that, while we know there are incredible, loving and inclusive people in our county, we must continue to acknowledge and challenge hate and bias here too. We cannot tolerate this kind of violence that targets another human simply for being who they are. We can do better than that.

The OC Human Relations Council has been one of the non-profit organizations leading the fight against hate crimes since our inception in 1991. For 27 years we have partnered with the Orange County Human Relations Commission to document and respond to hate crimes and incidents reported in Orange County.  OC Human Relations is a member and founder of the Orange County Hate Crime Network.  We work with law enforcement agencies, schools, inter-faith leaders and diverse communities to educate about hate crime and raise awareness in the larger community about this form of insidious bigotry.

In our continued effort to combat and denounce hate, in past year we have:

  • Co-hosted an expert panel on hate crimes;
  • Brought in a nationally recognized speaker on working with former extremists;
  • Revitalized the OC Hate Crime Network of local non-profits and law enforcement agencies;
  • Provided 6 police trainings on hate crime and cultural diversity;
  • Responded to 12 hate crime victims directly, through our partnership with OC Sheriff’s Department;
  • Reached 1 million people through the youth-oriented “kNOw Hate” Campaign design to raise awareness of hate crimes and how to report them.

These and other initiatives are at the core of our work to fulfill our mission to “foster mutual understanding among residents and eliminate prejudice, intolerance and discrimination in order to make Orange County a better place for ALL people to live, work, go to school and do business.”

In the coming months we will be working with the members of the Hate Crime Network to host a local screening of parts 1 and 2 of the FRONTLINE and ProPublica documentary Documenting Hate: Charlottesville. We hope you will join us to watch and discuss this important film.

We are here in solidarity with our community to celebrate the strength of our diversity and denounce those who seek to divide and sow seeds of hate among us. We urge our local communities to be safe and keep safe this weekend. As has been said so many times, and first by Martin Luther King Jr., “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”