Town council hears about hate crime, senator’s bills

By Mary M. McKenzie

Hate crime was the focus of this month’s meeting of the Hillcrest Town Council (HTC), held April 11 at the Joyce Beers Community Center.

A distinguished panel shared the legal definition of hate crimes, ways to protect against them, and the appropriate response to them. All of the speakers agreed that hate crimes go beyond any particular administration.

David Vance, Hillcrest Town Council member at large, takes questions from the audience. (l to r) Panelists discussing hate crimes include Sean Redmond, executive director of Stonewall Patrol; Joel Day, executive director of the city’s Human Relations Commission; and Deputy City Attorney Sangwon Park. (Photo by Ken Williams)

Joel Day, executive director of the city’s Human Relations Commission, suggested that hate crimes reflect a deep-seated hatred — not necessarily ideology, which is now common in public discourse.

San Diego Police Officer David Surwilo elaborated on measures to protect oneself, such as using a buddy system, avoiding dark spaces at night and projecting self-confidence.

The Stonewall Patrol, a volunteer neighborhood watch patrol group, was represented by its executive director, Sean Redmond, who also emphasized vigilance. Deputy City Attorney Sangwon Park addressed legal aspects of hate crimes.

A visit with state Sen. Toni G. Atkins preceded the panel. Atkins briefed the audience of about 50 people on her ambitious legislative agenda in Sacramento. After three years as Speaker of the Assembly, Atkins said she was excited once again to be involved in committees and working on bills dealing with health care, affordable housing, gender recognition, human trafficking, and the state budget.

State Sen. Toni G. Atkins updates the Hillcrest Town Council audience about her work in Sacramento. (Photo by Ken Williams)

During the “open comment” period, community members and public representatives shared information on the upcoming international April 29 climate march, recent changes in parking regulations that extend parking meter hours to 8 p.m. in parts of Hillcrest, and the efforts of the Neighborhood Empowerment Alliance.

HTC secretary Mary McKenzie invited community members to join the Town Council for dinner to support Dining Out for Life on April 27.

On May 11, the Town Council meeting will focus on immigration law and its challenges, featuring attorney and professor Lilia Velasquez.

The Town Council always welcomes new guests and volunteers. If you have any questions, contact chair Kath Rogers at More information about HTC is online at

—Mary M. McKenzie is secretary of the Hillcrest Town Council.

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