SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Attorney General Rob Bonta made history this year as the first Filipino American to hold the position in California.
ABC10 spoke with Bonta about growing up with civil rights leaders as parents, his top three priorities as the attorney general and the promise he has for all Californians.
The following interview between ABC10's Chris Thomas and California Attorney General Rob Bonta has been edited for clarity and brevity.
ABC10: Your career has been a career of firsts. First Filipino American lawmaker and now first Filipino American attorney general. How does this one rank?
It’s such an honor. It’s the privilege of a lifetime. My goal, if I’m honored and privileged, [is] to be the first, to make sure I’m not the last.
ABC10: Your father marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. Your mother had such a powerful role in the farmworkers movement. How has that shaped who you are and how you’ll approach this role?
My parents are my biggest inspiration and my biggest supporters. They are my heroes. They are activists to the core. I’ve been involved in some of the biggest social justice movements in our nation and in our state.
ABC10: What did you say to some of our conservative brothers and sisters who say it’s not the role of the Attorney General to be an “activist?"
That story of activism and fighting for social justice. Those values are hardwired into who I am.
They drive me to help others. I fight for all communities, and in the role of the attorney general that is my intent. To be the people’s attorney and fight for the little guy to make sure they are not being abused by the abuse of power of the big guy.
ABC10: You are coming in at a time when we’re seeing these horrific hate cases all across the nation but especially here in California and in the Bay Area. What can you do to send the message that this is unacceptable and that it must stop?”
The hate and violence that we are seeing are absolutely unacceptable as you mentioned and we cannot accept the unacceptable. The attorney general’s office has a lot of different levers including helping local law enforcement identify and investigate hate crimes.
Helping build trust between law enforcement and communities so that those in our AAPI community feel comfortable coming forward to report the crimes to make sure they can get the assistance and help they need.
We need to be more victim-centered with how we address hate crime by providing care and healing in language and with cultural competence.
We need to strengthen our reporting and tracking system so that we can really get a handle on the full depth of the challenge.”
ABC10: What are the top three tangible things that you think will happen on your watch?
Top three action items: take strong action to address hate crimes, fully establish officer-involved shooting division and protect disadvantaged communities from big polluters.
ABC10: Anything that I have not asked you that you would like to leave with us?
Happy AAPI Heritage Month. This is a time to celebrate our beautiful diversity and to remember the AAPI community members who have lead and built this nation.
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