San Jose Councilmember Maya Esparza knows first hand the pain of losing a loved one to hate violence.
Her 6-year-old nephew, Stephen Romero, was killed at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in 2019. The gunman appeared to have ties to white supremacist ideology.
Now, Esparza is leading Santa Clara County’s first ever hate crime task force — created in December as hate crimes across the U.S. spiked, particularly among Asian Americans.
“It’s easy to grieve in these situations and we all understand that. It’s easy to point a finger at a lone person with a gun and condemn that person,” said Esparza, who co-chairs the task force. “What is so much more challenging is understanding that it’s not just a lone person with a gun. It’s a culture of hatred, it’s a culture that has spread, in my opinion, in the past four years and it spreads further through inaction.”
The 10-member group’s goals include ensuring state and federal laws prohibiting hate crimes are enforced in the…