Alamedans Together Against Hate (ATAH) and the Hate Crime Response Team
1. Briefly describe the structure of your programs.
The Alamedans Together Against Hate (ATAH) group was formed at the request of Alameda Mayor Ralph Appezzato as a work group of the city’s Social Service Human Relations Board (SSHRB). It is chaired by a member of the SSHRB and its membership includes representatives from the SSHRB, the city’s Community Development and Police Departments, Alameda Unified School District, and many segments of Alameda’s diverse community. Regular meetings are held at the Police Department. The Investigations Division Commander, whose division is responsible for the investigation of hate crimes, represents the Police Department at all meetings of ATAH.
An adjunct to the ATAH is the Hate Crime Response Team, it is comprised of the Mayor, City Manager, Chief of Police, City Attorney, SSHRB / ATAH members, School Board President, Superintendent of Schools, and other members of the community, and is called together by the Mayor, City Manager, or Chief of Police when a hate crime or incident occurs. Its purpose is twofold:
2. When was the program created and why?
The ATAH group was recently formed in response to a perception in the community that incidents of hate crimes in Alameda are increasing. It was formed to educate the community about inter-group conflict and incidents of hate crime in order to prevent future hate crime incidents. In addition, the SSHRB was concerned about underlying social conditions which contribute to the commission of hate crimes, and whether such conditions, once identified, could be addressed to reduce the incidence of hate crimes within the community. Lastly, the SSHRB was interested in working with perpetrators of hate crimes to prevent additional offenses.
ATAH has identified the following as its goals:
The Hate Crime Response Team was created in May, 1998 to communicate to the media regarding specific hate crime incidents. Through public statements regarding the overall community impacts of hate violence and inter-group conflict, the Hate Crime Response Team works to establish, maintain, and enhance an atmosphere of acceptance, goodwill and unity between groups and individuals.
3. How do you measure the program’s effectiveness?
In regard to the effectiveness of the ATAH group, it will take some time to determine whether this newly-formed group will be effective in the prevention of hate crimes within the community. However, attendance at ATAH meetings has been strong and has represented Alameda’s diverse population well. In regard to the effectiveness of the Hate Crime Response Team, a procedure has been established to ensure timely notification of involved officials in the event a hate crime occurs. It has been tested and has worked as designed.
4. How is the program financed?
The City of Alameda furnishes administrative and clerical support for the ATAH and the Hate Crime Response Team. In addition, the city provides funding for their activities through the SSHRB appropriation.
5. How is the community involved in the program, if at all? How has the community responded to the program?
The ATAH group membership represents a broad spectrum of Alameda’s diverse community. Organizations include: Citizens of Alameda for Racial Equality, Out On the Island, Alameda Ministerial Association, Alameda Unified School District Board of Directors, Alameda Journal Newspaper, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, College of Alameda, Alameda Multi-Cultural Center Project, Building Bridges Project, and concerned individuals. Such diversity ensures that all viewpoints and issues are considered.
The ATAH is comprised of several committees including community, criminal justice, media, youth and education, and faith, based on a model developed by the California Association of Human Rights Organizations. At present, the group is planning a citywide forum to provide members of the community with an opportunity to learn more about the ATAH and to voice their comments and concerns regarding hate crimes, bias incidents and their impacts on the community.
As an adjunct to the ATAH, The Hate Crime Response Team also represents a broad spectrum of the community.
6. What specific advice do you have for mayors interested in replicating a program such as yours?
It is important to provide both financial and political support for such groups, whose success and effectiveness will be determined by the breadth of their community representation and support. The Police Department, with its investigative expertise and ability to provide timely information regarding reported hate crimes, is a critical component in this type of group. Therefore, it is important to meet with and gain the support of the Police Chief early in the planning stage.
For more information, please contact:
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Telephone (202) 293-7330, FAX (202) 293-2352