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California launches new snitch hotline to report 'hate acts' and 'hate incidents' — including 'name calling'

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California has launched a new hotline for residents to report "hate acts."

Last Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and the California Civil Rights Department announced the launch of CA vs Hate. Through the hotline, Californians will be able to snitch on their neighbors for committing "hate acts," which the service explicitly states do not always include violence.

"A hate incident is a hostile expression or action that may be motivated by bias against another person’s actual or perceived identity," the website states. "Perpetrators may be motivated by different discriminatory biases, including, but not limited to; bias based on race, color, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender, including gender identity."

Some examples of "hate incidents," according to the website, are "refusing service," "derogatory name calling," and bullying.

The new hotline, Newsom explained, is "an unequivocal message that hate will not be tolerated" in California.

"We stand firm for a California for All and it is important that we hold perpetrators accountable for their actions and provide resources for those individuals victimized by hate crimes," he said in a statement. "Now, Californians have another tool to ensure that not only justice is served, but that individuals have access to additional resources to help deal with the lingering wounds that remain after such a horrendous crime occurs."

Will law enforcement be involved?

Reports made to the hotline "will not be shared with law enforcement," unless the person making a report requests it. The hotline, however, will share information with law enforcement "if needed."

The hotline service "will also identify civil legal options that don’t involve the criminal legal system, both through the Civil Rights Department and other agencies."

Interestingly, the definition of a "hate crime" under the California penal code is much stricter than the broad definition the hotline provides.

To be guilty of a hate crime in California, prosecutors must prove the accused acted willfully, used force, interfered with the person's free exercise of their constitutional rights, did so because of actual or perceived characteristics — including sex, nationality, disability, religion, race, ethnicity, etc. — and intended to interfere in their rights.

So-called hate acts like name-calling are not included.

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