“The ongoing anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents, especially against our elderly Asian Americans, are absolutely horrific,” Rep. Meng said.
By Forum Staff
Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) recently announced their plan to reintroduce the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which seeks to address the ongoing hate and violence targeted toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by providing greater assistance with law enforcement response to COVID-19 hate crimes and creating a position at the Department of Justice to facilitate expedited review of such cases.
Specifically, the bill would:
- Designate an officer or employee of the Justice Department to facilitate expedited review of COVID-19 hate crimes reported to federal, state, and/or local law enforcement;
- Issue guidance for state and local law enforcement agencies to:
- establish online reporting of hate crimes or incidents, and to have online reporting available in multiple languages;
- expand culturally competent and linguistically appropriate public education campaigns, and collection of data and public reporting of hate crimes; and
- Issue guidance describing best practices to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the COVID–19 pandemic, in coordination with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the COVID–19 Health Equity Task Force and community-based organizations.
“The ongoing anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents, especially against our elderly Asian Americans, are absolutely horrific. I am honored to introduce the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act with Senator Hirono to address this disgusting pattern of hate,” Meng said. “Before this pandemic started, I urged everyone—including elected officials—to not blame Asian Americans for the virus. My words were not heeded. The former president and his congressional Republican enablers trafficked racist, bigoted terms to describe COVID-19. In doing so, their language stoked people’s fears and created an atmosphere of intolerance and violence, which persists even today. Since the beginning of the pandemic there has been nearly 3,000 reported incidents of physical, verbal, and online attacks against Asian Americans. Even in my own district in Queens, Asian Americans have been attacked. To combat those acts, we need DOJ to prioritize addressing these heinous acts by designating a point person for these COVID-19 related hate crimes; make it easier for victims to report crimes committed against them; and expand public education campaigns to address COVID-19 hate crimes and incidents. This must end and it is why we are working to ensure our justice system has the people and resources to effectively account for and mitigate anti-Asian hate crimes. I look forward to this bill becoming law.”
Hirono added, “We’ve seen the horrifying consequences of racist language as AAPI communities across our country experience hate crimes and violence related to the pandemic. The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act addresses the surge in violence against AAPI communities by dedicating an official at the Department of Justice to expeditiously review hate crimes reported to law enforcement. The bill also provides resources for communities to come together and fight intolerance and hate. This is no less than victims deserve.”