California’s new Asian attorney general made a commitment on Tuesday to tackle hate crimes as a focus of his administration, saying the state is in a “state of crisis” as the number of violent attacks against people of color has increased dramatically since the start of the pandemic.

Focus on Hate Crime

Attorney general Rob Bonta announced a new Racial Justice Bureau as part of the California Department of Justice. He said a virtual meeting will be held to discuss hate crime, which would include the mayors of California’s 13 largest cities.

Bonta said more than half of the hate crimes in the region go unreported and are difficult to prosecute because of the requirements for hate crime determination. “Make no mistake, right now we’re in a full-on state of crisis, a full-on state of emergency when it comes to hate violence against the Asian-Pacific Islander community,” he said.

Two Asian American women were stabbed last week in an unprovoked attack while they were waiting at a bus station in San Francisco. Officials charged a Los Angeles County jail prisoner with a hate crime after he knocked down and assaulted an Asian American jail employee.

Bonta is the first Filipino American Democrat to hold California’s top law enforcement post. On April 23 during his first news conference, he talked about the problem of hate crime in the region, the Associated Press reported.

The new bureau would also focus on several other racial and social justice problems that people experienced before his term, including white supremacy, racial bias in policing, encouraging diverse college campuses, and a new task force to study reparations for African Americans.