By Robert Haugh
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen sent a strong message about hate crimes related to COVID-19 in our community. You can watch it here. It’s less than one minute.
Rosen also took some time to answer a Q and A we sent to him last week.
Q. Why did you create the PSA? Was there an increase in attacks on individuals in our community?
A. This video was made to send a message to all the members of our community who might feel alone and vulnerable. We stand with them and we – with the help of law enforcement – will protect them. It was made to send a message to the world that this community stands together against hate. Neither political rhetoric nor the pandemic will break us apart. We have so far filed one charge against someone who committed a pandemic-related hate crime. That may seem like a small number of reported incidents, but it is one too many.
Q. Are other DAs in the state doing anything similar to your PSA?
A. We sent the PSA to prosecutors in California and the rest of the country. They sent back many messages of solidarity. I know that they are spreading the word in their own way.
Q. Will you encourage other DAs or law enforcement agencies to do something like this?
A. Hate crime is a law enforcement concern, one that every DA I know takes seriously. However, we must face it as a community – from cops to carpenters. I encourage everyone to find their own way of making sure we support each other, teaching our children about it, and reporting it when we see it.
Q. Can you give us a sense of the consequences for someone who attacks an individual blaming them in some way for the COVID-19 crisis?
A. We can – and will – charge someone criminally if they commit a hate crime against someone in our community. Depending on their severity, hate crimes can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies. There will be accountability.
Q. After 9/11, there was a reported increase in assaults against the Muslim community. What lessons did your office take from that period that you’re applying now?
A. Hatred is not new. This Office’s commitment to fight hatred is not new. What is new is this pandemic and the tools that we are using to fight it: the PSA, social media, our team of community prosecutors who have embedded in neighbors of need.
Q. The PSA is well done. Who produced it?
A. I am proud to say that my Office created the concept, wrote it, participated in it, and produced it – with the help of a professional and talented videography crew. It’s only 55 seconds. But we feel that in that short time, we captured the issue and our community’s shared passion to fight against ignorance, racism, and hatred.