Bill Would Extend Hate Crime Law to Protect ‘Allies’

Nancy Skinner.

State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, is proposing to amend California’s hate crime statute so that if someone is killed because they’re an ally to an oppressed group, their killer will face stricter penalties.

Currently, California’s hate crime law protects people against attacks due to their race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and disability status.

Skinner’s change would extend the law to protect allies who themselves are not part of the “protected class,” but who are attacked because they’re standing in defense of or in solidarity with them.

The change was prompted by the killing of Heather Heyer, a white woman who died after white nationalist James Fields allegedly drove a car into a group of protesters in Charlottesville, Va. on August 11. Charlottesville was the scene of a racist rally that drew hundreds of neo-Nazis and other white supremacists. Many of the counter-protesters were also white.

“Taking these actions, California will ensure that racist and hateful groups can be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Skinner said about her bill in an emailed statement.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley supports the change and said it will aid in prosecuting hate crimes.