Volunteer Hate Crime Responders Ready for Action

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ccejFourteen dedicated community volunteers recently completed 17 hours of training by The California Conference for Equality (CCEJ) and Justice to assist victims of hate crime and bias incidents in the City of Long Beach. The effort is part of the Long Beach Human Dignity Program, founded in 1999 to ensure that all residents in the City of Long Beach are treated with courtesy and respect regardless of their racial background, their nation of origin, the religion they practice, their sexual orientation, gender, or disability status.

Volunteers learned such valuable skills as: empathic listening, resource referral, crisis response, and community mediation.

Teresa Gomez, Human Dignity Program Coordinator said: “Together these volunteers have learned about themselves and each other and about the nature of a crime that is often unexplainable and devastating not only to the victim, but the victim’s community.”

California law defines a hate crime as those crimes in which the facts indicate that bias against the victim’s real or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, disability or gender is a substantial motivating factor in the commission of an offense.

“Unfortunately in these tough economic times, incidents of intolerance, bias and even hate crimes tend to increase. This team is there to demonstrate to all the residents of Long Beach that they are valued and deserve to be treated with courtesy and respect regardless of their identity,” said Rene Castro, lead trainer and Vice-President for programs with CCEJ.

The effort is a partnership between CCEJ and the City of Long Beach, Community Development Department, Neighborhood Services Bureau. CCEJ is a non-profit human relations organization based in Long Beach since 1963. The mission of the organization is to eliminate bias, bigotry and racism in America through conflict resolution, advocacy and education.

Graduates include: Cyndi Soto, Patricia Lee, Maria Boecker, Sandy Horowitz, Anita Romero, Autrilla Scott, Flora Easter, Geoff Maddox, Robert Navarro, Leticia Espinoza-Vopyan, Tonja Muhammad, Olenka Krupa, Leonard Madkins and Katherine Gonzalez.

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