Opening Statement by Damon Brown, Special Assistant Attorney General at the California Department of Justice (DOJ) at the U.S. Presentation to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination concerning the U.S. Report on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD Report)
As Submitted for the Record
Madam Chairperson and Distinguished Members of this Committee:
My name is Damon Brown. I serve as Special Assistant Attorney General at the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and I am here on behalf of California Attorney General Rob Bonta. I am joined by Michael Newman, head of the Civil Rights Enforcement Section at the California Department of Justice.
With nearly 40 million residents, California is the most populous state in the United States.
We are also proud to be the most diverse. One in four Californians is foreign-born. No single race or ethnic group constitutes a majority of our diverse population — from indigenous communities to the more than 100,000 refugees we have welcomed in the last two decades.
Yet even in a place as diverse as California, we are not immune to racial discrimination and violence.
In fact, earlier this summer, Attorney General Bonta released our state’s annual hate crime data. Between 2020 and 2021, California experienced a 32.6% increase in reported hate crimes — criminal acts targeting actual or perceived identities, including race or ethnicity.
While we’ve made progress, this data only affirms that work remains to be done to ensure the elimination of racial discrimination. That is why at DOJ we join our partners in the federal government in investing in efforts to eliminate racial discrimination, and the dangers it represents. Specifically:
Attorney General Bonta formed the Racial Justice Bureau and launched the Office of Community Awareness, Response, and Engagement to empower diverse communities and tackle California’s most pressing racial and social justice issues;
Our Civil Rights Enforcement Section in ensuring the strong and vigorous enforcement of federal and state civil rights laws;
Our Housing Strike Force is working to end racial discrimination in housing, among other mandates; and
Our agency is proud to directly support California’s Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board, to eliminate racial profiling in law enforcement, as well as the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans.
We recognize there is no single solution to eliminating racial discrimination, but through these efforts and others at all levels of government and community, California is fully committed to fostering equity to ensure the full realization of human rights in our state.
Because, as Attorney General Bonta says, “All people — no matter their background, race, or identity — deserve safety. They deserve protection. They deserve to be celebrated.”
Thank you. I now turn it over to my colleague, Steven Hill with the National Security Council.