GLENDALE–The Office of California Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced this week the creation of the Attorney General’s Commission on Hate Crimes–a diverse group of prominent civic and community leaders brought together to help fight ethnic–religious and racial intolerance and injustice. Attorney Knar Mouhibian–a member of the Armenian National Committee and the Board of Regents of Prelacy Armenian Schools–is one of roughly two dozen members of the commission who will be studying a number of related issues including the under-reporting of hate crimes.
The Honorary Chairman of the Committee is Fred Korematsu–a renown civil rights crusader whose successful challenge of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War Two led to both recognition and reparations for thousands of American citizens.
The two Co-Chairs of the Committee are prominent actor and community activist Edward James Olmos and noted author–highly respected criminologist and former San Jose Chief of Police–Joseph McNamara. Senior Assistant Attorney General Louis Verdugo–who heads the Civil Rights Division of the Attorney General’s Office–will also be active in advancing the goals of the Commission–which held its first meeting on Wednesday–March 15 to discuss operating procedures and explore various ways to achieve its objectives.
The following day–the Attorney General’s Special Liaison to the Armenian American Community– Deputy Attorney General Zaven Sinanian–appeared in Glendale City Hall before the Glendale Human Relations Coalition to discuss the subject of hate crimes and offer ideas on combating this serious and growing crime. In attendance at Sinanian’s presentation were Glendale City Council Member Sheldon Baker–Glendale Police Chief Russell Siverling–Glendale Unified School Board Member Chuck Sambar–Glendale Assistant Superintendent Alice Petrossian and representative from State Senator Adam Schiff’s Office–Mannik Khatchatrian. Armenian National Committee representatives Artin Manoukian and Vicken Sonentz-Papazian were also present to participate in the discussions.
In September of 1999–at an ANC sponsored community event held at the Peschekerian Center in Glendale–Attorney General Lockyer spoke passionately about the need for a community-wide response to fight the spread of hate crimes and announced that his office was preparing to create a task force to address this issue.
"We are pleased that Attorney General Bill Lockyer’s Office has taken affirmative steps to counter ethnic–religious and racial intolerance," stated ANC Western Region Executive Director Vicken Sonentz-Papazian–"The Armenian American community is proud to be represented by Knar and Zaven–two extremely well-respected and dedicated individuals who will be working closely with the Attorney General to combat this serious problem that has impacted our community," concluded Sonentz-Papazian.
During the ensuing months–the Committee on Hate Crimes will be holding a series of public hearings throughout the state. More information about these public events will be announced in the coming days.