Anti-hate legislation proposed by Assemblymembers Cooper, Low dies in Public Safety Committee

Assemblymember Jim Cooper testifying before the Assembly Public Safety Committee during
the April 2021 hearing on Assembly Bill 266. | 

An Assembly Bill to ostensibly address the rise in anti-Asian hate died in a committee meeting this morning.

The legislation, Assembly Bill 266, was sponsored by Assemblymembers Jim Cooper (D - Elk Grove) and Evan Low (D - Silicon Valley). According to press releases from Cooper and Low, the legislation would address the increase in hate directed towards the Asian community by reclassifying "hate crimes to ensure perpetrators of the most violent hate crimes are not eligible for early release from prison."

Without discussion, the Public Safety Committee voted 5 to 2 against advancing the bill, which killed the legislation for this session. 

Following the defeat, Cooper issued a statement condemning the vote, saying, "sadly, five Committee Members failed to recognize the damage these violent acts inflict on our communities and chose to continue allowing perpetrators of these vicious acts to be eligible for early release from prison.”

Today's vote was the second time the legislation was voted on by the Public Safety Committee defeat for AB 266. In April, the Committee also defeated the legislation.

During the 30-minute April committee hearing, the bill was opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the California Public Defenders Association, who characterized the bill as a step back from recent incarceration reforms in California. Speakers from both groups stressed their groups' support efforts to combat anti-Asian hate and crimes but said this bill would not address the problem.

"This bill is not about violent crime, it is about harsher punishment for non-violent crimes," ACLU representative Kathy Sher said. "Targeting non-violent hate crimes by re-categorizing them as violent will do nothing to stop violent hate crime."  

Expressing his disappointment, Low said the committee members turned a blind eye to the increase in hate directed at the Asian community.

 “The decision not to advance AB 266 for a fuller discussion turns a blind eye to the spike in anti-Asian American, and Pacific Islander hate crimes, as well as other attacks motivated by racism,” Low said.

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