Huntington Beach leaders discuss how to be an upstander, not a bystander

Don Han of Orange County Human Relations, H.B. Councilwoman Natalie Moser, top right, and Mayor Kim Carr, are shown.
Don Han of Orange County Human Relations speaks as Huntington Beach City Councilwoman Natalie Moser, top right, and Mayor Kim Carr, middle right, listen during Thursday’s town hall meeting.
(Screencap by Matt Szabo)

Hate crimes and hate incidents have skyrocketed in the last couple of years in Orange County, and Huntington Beach has not been an exception.

Huntington Beach interim Police Chief Julian Harvey said during a virtual town hall Thursday night that there have been two reported hate crimes in the city so far in 2021. One involved threats made against a Black family and the other was an assault of a Latino fisherman at the Huntington Beach Pier.

Against this backdrop, as well as a “White Lives Matter” rally possibly planned for the pier on April 11, the town hall meeting seemed very timely. The topic was being an upstander instead of a bystander, training attendees how to react if they witnessed a public act of hatred or bigotry.

Panelists included Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr, City Councilwoman Natalie Moser, Human Relations Task Force chair Vashia Rhone and Don Han, Orange County Human Relations director of operations.

The five "D's" of bystander intervention include direct, distract, delegate, document and delay.
(Screencap by Matt Szabo)

Han’s presentation showed that reported hate incidents in Orange County increased from 14 in 2014 to 165 in 2018. Hate crimes steadily grew each year, from 40 in 2014 to 78 in 2019.

Hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the county have shown an even more dramatic increase, from four in 2019 to 40 last year, though he emphasized that those numbers are underreported.

“When people get called racial slurs or things like that, typically they just normalize it,” Han said. “They don’t pick up the phone and call the police ... But we’re beginning to see the trend of more harassment being associated with the pandemic.

“Often times, people just don’t know what to do, including myself. I’ve been here 40 years, I came here as a refugee, and I can tell you a couple of times a year I experience incidents of name-calling or comments to me. Sometimes I don’t even report it to my own agency, because I normalize it and I forget.”

Han introduced five D’s of bystander intervention, created by a nonprofit called Hollaback!, that onlookers should utilize if it is safe to do so. They include direct, distract, delegate, document and delay.

Tactics for speaking up against racism that can be used directly toward the perpetrator include interrupting them, questioning them, educating them or echoing someone who speaks up against them.

Han encouraged people who are victimized to immediately report it to the police or sheriff’s department. They can also call the O.C. Human Relations hotline at (714) 480-6580, and remain anonymous if they choose.

Huntington Beach also has a diversity, equity and inclusivity webpage.

Moser, formerly the chairwoman of the Human Relations Task Force, said that even one hate crime is too many.

“I think that we can only change our community for positive if we start just actively practicing these things — knowing hate, understanding it and changing it,” Moser said. “We have that within our grasp, and I know that we have a wonderful community who’s committed to welcoming one another.”

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