Articles and Op-Ed Details

No Tolerance for Hate Crimes

Submission for Ladera Ranch Times

While families across Orange County joined in celebration of our nation's freedom this Fourth of July, one woman in Ladera Ranch suffered a brutal attack. Maria Guadarrama was working as a custodian in a gated community of Ladera Ranch when she was assaulted at knife point and robbed by two men who yelled hateful racial slurs during the attack.

After the incident, I joined the OC Human Relations Commission and Sheriff Hutchens in a press conference to speak out against the particularly heinous nature of this crime due to the fact that it was racially motivated.

As you know, South Orange County is not only blessed with remarkable landscapes and a rich natural history, but its abundance of cultural, racial and religious diversity is one of the things that make it so special. Even with this diversity, we're nationally recognized as having many of the safest communities in the country - in part because we recognize that crime of any kind should not and will not be tolerated.

Hate crimes, in particular, send a message of intolerance and discrimination. On the holiday that symbolizes our freedom and liberty we also celebrated our inalienable right to personal dignity which is entitled to every man, woman and child regardless of race or creed. Not only did the two perpetrators of this violent crime insult those ideals, they demonstrated a dark side of our society. The outpouring of community support, however, including that of one Ladera Ranch resident who offered to reimburse the victim's stolen money, demonstrated the solidarity and compassion that Ladera Ranch residents pride themselves on.

The Sheriff's Department is working diligently to catch these criminals and bring them to justice but this crime highlights the importance and obligation of every citizen to take part in keeping our communities safe. I know that Ladera Ranch takes that obligation seriously.

A few months ago, I participated with the Sheriff in a forum in Ladera Ranch on the topic of "stranger danger". The forum was held in response to an attempted child abduction in a local neighborhood. It helped remind citizens of the importance of being alert and mindful of what is happening in our neighborhoods and that is what is needed again.

To prevent future crimes like this, the County is also working alongside the OC Human Rights Commission. This commission was established by the Board of Supervisors to work toward eliminating prejudice, discrimination and intolerance by offering educational programs and materials that teach understanding and respect.

As you can see, appropriately responding to this crime must take a joint effort by everyone involved. Together, we will stand strong against hate and intolerance in our communities because even one crime of this nature is one too many.