Stand Up Against Hate: A Message from Chief Incontro
As we begin to approach the light at the end of the tunnel related to our struggle with COVID-19, I reflect on the last year with sadness at the increased polarization, vitriol, and violence on display in our nation and even experienced by some in our San Marino community. The current wave of anti-Asian sentiment is devastating; hate in any of its forms cannot be tolerated. Please read on for a heartfelt and thoughtful message from San Marino Police Chief John Incontro.
-City Manager Marcella Marlowe
A Message from Chief John Incontro
Across our Country, our State and our City of San Marino, hate has been experienced by our Asian American, Pacific Islander communities. It is inexcusable and in some cases criminal. As your Chief of Police, and parent of two students in our outstanding school district, I have a special interest in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of everyone in the city.
The Officers, civilians and professional staff of the San Marino Police Department are dedicated to supporting the Constitution of the United States and investigation and prosecution of those who violate laws. There are those who fail to understand that while speech is a protected right, it comes with the responsibility not to commit criminal acts, or to be hateful and disrespectful to others. Hate comes in many forms; direct face to face confrontations, writings, or through social media. So many hide behind the anonymity of social media. We should remember a meme may appear to be humorous to one person, it may actually be hurtful and offensive to others. Parents should monitor the social media of their children and when hateful content is found take appropriate action to educate and remove access to that social media platform.
It is important to understand the differences between hate crimes and hate incidents. A hate crime is a crime against a person, group, or property motivated by the victim's real or perceived protected social group. The law protects against many classes of hate crimes. Here are signs of a possible hate crime:
- The criminal chose the victim or property because they belonged to a protected group, like a certain religion or gender.
- The criminal made written or verbal comments showing a prejudice.
- The crime happened on a date that is important for the victim's protected group.
- There is a lot of organized hate activity in the area.
A hate incident is an action or behavior motivated by hate but legally protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of expression.
Examples of hate incidents include:
- Distributing hate material in public places, and
- Displaying hate material on your own property.
The U.S. Constitution allows hate speech as long as it does not interfere with the civil rights of others. If a hate incident starts to threaten a person or property, it may become a hate crime.
The San Marino Police Department encourages everyone who believes they may be a victim of a hate crime to contact the Department immediately so we may conduct a thorough investigation. It is important for you to report these crimes. You may not be the only victim and such activity, whether from a group or an individual, cannot be ignored. When you report a crime, you may be protecting someone else in our community. We take every call from the public serious and will investigate any crime to the fullest extent of the law.
It is time for all of us to get together and loudly denounce hate crimes and hate speech. We cannot ignore, or remain silent, it is time to speak up and stand up against hate. I invite all members of this community to join me and many other members of the City to speak out against hate directed at our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and all other people who call San Marino home.