Legislation comes as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders experience wave of physical, verbal, and online attacks
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (MA-5) voted today for the final passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, legislation to address the ongoing hate and violence targeted toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). The legislation provides assistance with law enforcement response to COVID-19 hate crimes and creates a position at the Department of Justice to facilitate expedited review of such cases. The legislation is led by Rep. Grace Meng (NY-6), First Vice Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), and U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Executive Board Member of CAPAC. The bill now goes to President Biden’s desk for his signature.
“In the wake of this pandemic, there has been a disturbing rise in anti-Asian hate in the United States. This wave of discrimination has brought violence, trauma, and fear to the AAPI community, and today Congress is taking a stand. This legislation will ensure that violence towards the AAPI community is treated as a hate crime and that we are collecting data and best practices to reduce discrimination,” said Assistant Speaker Clark. “We take this vote during AAPI Heritage month, a time to acknowledge the incredible contributions of the AAPI community to our nation and the interconnectedness of the American story and our mutual safety. I am proud to support the entire AAPI community in voting for this critical, long overdue bill.”
“I am grateful for the Congresswoman’s work on this important issue. A solid stance against hate crime is so important to ensure that hate has no place in any community, especially now and forward, given the heightened anti-Asian violence,” said Mai Du, Co-Founder of the Greater Malden Asian American Community Coalition. “Asian Americans are American, too. We are not the ‘perpetual foreigners’ and we are not the ‘model minority’. Asian America is diverse and unique. We have to recognize that hate against all communities of color has been real for centuries, and we, as a nation, are ready to call it out and eradicate it by naming it and fighting the core culprit, which is white supremacy. We need to learn about and appreciate each other's history, narratives, and struggles and come together united to find solutions and real actions to uplift and celebrate our rich identities, intersectionalities, and collective whole as a nation. Hate has got to stop!”
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.
A copy of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act can be viewed HERE.