September 23, 2022
SB 1161 and AB 2448 begins a government-driven process to address the rise of hate acts in the state’s public transit systems and businesses
SACRAMENTO, CA: Today, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a pair of No Place for Hate bills that addresses hate and harassment in the places where Californians shop and travel. Sponsored by the Stop AAPI Hate coalition, AB 2448 and SB 1161 will help California shift the burden away from individuals who are harassed, especially women, LGBTQ+ people, and Black people and other people of color, and towards public agencies.
The first bill, Increase Safety for Public Transit Riders (SB 1161) by Sen. Dave Min (D-Irvine), requires the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University to create a community survey for California transit operators to strengthen and promote passenger safety. The data collection effort is a critical first step in creating a larger framework for meaningful safety solutions.
“No Californian should feel unsafe on public transit, yet study after study shows that a majority of women, seniors, LGBTQ+ riders, and other vulnerable populations experience street harassment or worse while commuting,” said Sen. Dave Min. “This legislation puts forward a data-driven safety framework that will help us understand why these incidents keep happening. The new survey tool developed by the Mineta Institute is the first step in a strategic approach by the Legislature to address this issue. Thank you to the coalition at Stop AAPI Hate for your partnership, and for fighting so hard for California public transit riders who are relying on us to get this right. And thank you to Gov. Newsom for signing SB 1161.”
The data-driven approach centers rider experiences and ensures consistency in the collection of demographic information, first and last mile safety concerns, and overall experiences with safety, including street harassment.
“We applaud Gov. Newsom for signing SB 1161 into law and sending a signal that there is no place for hate in California,” said Cynthia Choi, Co-Founder at Stop AAPI Hate and Co-Executive Director at Chinese for Affirmative Action. “We cannot fix what we cannot measure. SB 1161 opens the door to data-driven policy solutions by naming the problem of street harassment on public transit, developing a tool for transit systems to measure its impact, and providing an avenue for public transit riders to share their experiences.”
Meanwhile Protecting Customers’ Civil Rights at Businesses (AB 2448) by Asm. Phil Ting (D – San Francisco) directs the state’s Civil Rights Department to create a first-of-its-kind pilot program that incentivizes businesses to create safe and welcoming environments. It also empowers customers with information about which businesses are taking steps to address hate and harassment so they can patronize or contract with businesses that take a meaningful stand.
“Customers have the right to feel safe in businesses, and workers need training on ensuring that,” said Asm. Phil Ting. “Right now, our state’s civil rights laws do not adequately protect people who are verbally harassed and intimidated while grocery shopping or eating at a restaurant. My bill allows businesses to lead the fight against hate and create more welcoming and safe spaces for all Californians.”
The bills are rooted in the Stop AAPI Hate coalition’s documentation of the more than 4,000 hate acts reported in California over the past two years. Nationwide, the coalition received more than 11,000 reports. Of these incidents, almost two-thirds were verbal harassment and about three-quarters occurred in publicly accessible spaces — on the street, public transit, and in businesses. Women, especially women of color, as well as LGBTQ+ people, elderly and young folks, and disabled people are common targets of harassment while in publicly accessible spaces necessary for daily living such as buses and trains, grocery stores, and restaurants.
“We appreciate Gov. Newsom for signing AB 2448 into law and recognizing that businesses must play an active role in preventing hate and harassment,” said Manjusha Kulkarni, Co-Founder of Stop AAPI Hate and Executive Director of the AAPI Equity Alliance. “This law names hate-based harassment as a pervasive problem. It is an essential first step in creating safer environments for customers.”
Both SB 1161 and AB 2448 will be effective as of January 1, 2023.