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New Orange County Human Relations campaign provides a ‘toolkit’ for schools to prevent hate crimes

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Gideon Berstein and Jeanne Pepper Bernstein, the parents of the late Blaze Bernstein, speak during the OC Human Relations Council’s annual hate crime report release event at the Los Olivos Community Center in Irvine on Sept. 26.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

In response to increasing hate crimes and incidents, Orange County Human Relations is rolling out its first statewide anti-hate program to equip schools with the resources to launch their own educational and awareness campaigns.

The nonprofit will provide schools with a “toolkit” that contains the necessary components for an anti-hate campaign, including templates, documents, posters and digital content.

OC Human Relations staff will hold the first workshops for educators on Dec. 6 and 7 at their office in Santa Ana. Staff will provide workshops across the state over the next year.

A “Day of kNOwHATE” will be held on April 30 across California campuses. Students will be asked to wear green as a show of solidarity and use social media to spread awareness of the campaign.

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The “kNOw Hate” campaign is the largest the nonprofit has ever initiated.

“We are trying to reach young people at a preventative level,” said Alison Edwards, chief executive of OC Human Relations. “We hope we can prevent folks from participating in hateful activities, and encourage others to report them.”

According to OC Human Relations, hate crimes and incidents have increased each of the last four years in Orange County.

The nonprofit’s report for 2018 found a 12% increase in hate crimes from the previous year.

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The parents of Blaze Bernstein, who in 2018 was allegedly murdered for being gay by a former classmate with ties to a hate group, spoke during the O.C. report release event in September.

“I think it reflects the divisions in our country,” Edwards said. “As a nation, we seem to be more prone to othering people and dehumanizing our fellow Americans. There are a lot of areas in Orange County that are going through demographic change. For some people, it might be a challenge to find out how to approach that.”

She said that the statistics may be a sign of those struggles.

“We envision a county where everyone feels safe, respected and valued,” Edwards said, of the “kNOw Hate” campaign. “This is how we build that county.”

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