PREVENT HATE’s President’s Home Has Been Vandalized with Swastikas

This morning Matthew Rosenthal, PREVENT HATE’s president, woke up to find his home, the home of his Jewish next door neighbor, and public property in front defaced with swastikas. What part of PREVENT HATE don’t they understand?

Nazi graffiti on electric box

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California Needs Prison Reform Now!

With all the talk about reforming California’s prisons, the discussion has yet to focus on the destruction caused by the intergroup tensions that are cultivated by the corrections system itself. Clearly, very little … nearly nothing … is being done about this particular problem. Yet, the issue is so bad that our prisons are now a public safety threat — the exact opposite of their intention. We see “black vs. brown vs. white” violence on the streets, in our communities, and in our schools. These tensions can be directly traced to our prison system. Men go into the system, become inculcated to hate “the other” and then, when they are released back into mainstream society, they bring their new culture of hate with them, indoctrinating their associates (particularly younger siblings and children) with it. Think about this. California’s largest institution is an incubator of hatred, and actually threatens public safety. We need reform now.

This isn’t a new problem. We have needed reform for a long time. PREVENT HATE provided the State of California with a white paper on this issue several years ago. Unfortunately, nobody seemed to listen; and now, here we are with yet another inter-ethnic riot in a California prison — this time between blacks and Latinos. This one was at Chino State prison and was bad. Dozens of people went to the hospital. Hundreds were injured. A dormitory was burned down … And you know what? Many of these guys may not have had an “us versus them” mentality before they went into the system, but developed one only after they went in.

What do our politicians think happens to this mindset when the prisoners are released? Here’s a not-so-subtle hint. Entire communities get dragged into it, innocent children get murdered, and hate proves itself to produce devastatingly tangible results. The primary purpose of government is to provide public safety. When it ceases to do that, it has failed.

Tomorrow is the meeting of the California State Advisory Committee for the United States Commission on Civil Rights. We are going to discuss our strategic agenda — what institutions, if any need federal inspection so that Congress will be informed. Reforming California’s prisons to limit intergroup hate must be our priority. You can rest assured, I will bring it up and advocate for us to direct our efforts upon this issue. No more silence. We need to reform our prisons now. Prevent hate!

Intercultural Exchange with Delegation from China’s Disabled Persons’ Federation

Last week PREVENT HATE met with a delegation from China’s Disabled Persons’ Federation. We were invited by the Los Angeles City Department on Disability to participate in an intimate roundtable discussion about empowering people with disabilities. Three quick asides FYI: 1) The City of Los Angeles is the international model for government services to people living with disabilities. 2) We were impressed by the Chinese delegation for coming to the meeting right from the airport. They didn’t even stop at their hotel first. Now that’s commitment. They certainly have our deepest respect for their dedication to be of service to some of their least advantaged population. 3) The office space for the Los Angeles City Department on Disability is fabulous. And compared to their last space … let’s just say they went from eek to chic. 

The meeting went quickly actually. Matthew Rosenthal, President, and Stephanie Stone, Associate, represented PREVENT HATE (Steph is also Vice Chair of the Los Angeles County Commission on Veterans Affairs) together with Barry Leneman, our Witness Humanity director and executive director of Ethic Housing. We, along with the City of L.A. and the Chinese delegates, shared best practices and ideas about how to provide services to people with disabilities, as well as how to foster self-sufficiency and independence. (And, yes, we happened to mention our training program that focuses on this issue.) The Los Angeles City Department on Disability and PREVENT HATE stressed the importance of utilizing public-private partnerships to achieve goals. We were aware that this may not be so easily replicated in the People’s Republic of China, but we wanted them to understand our way of doing things nevertheless to help them know us better since an important component of this meeting was to foster intercultural relations around an important humanitarian issue — the PREVENT HATE method at work!

At the end of the day, per usual, we made some new friends and colleagues. Whenever we do these things we have such a good time that it feels like we are combining business with pleasure.