Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY) is reintroducing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) experience a wave of physical, verbal and online attacks.
The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act seeks to address the ongoing hate and violence towards AAPIs by providing greater assistance with law enforcement response to COVID-19 hate crimes and creating a position at the Department of Justice to facilitate review of such cases.
Meng, who serves as first vice-chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said she is honored to introduce the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act with Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), executive board member of CPAC.
“Before this pandemic started, I urged everyone to — including elected officials — to not blame Asian Americans for the virus. My words were not heeded,” Meng said. “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.”
According to Meng, since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been nearly 3,000 reported incidents of physical, verbal and online attacks against Asian Americans.
Meng said they’re working to ensure the justice system has the people and resources to effectively account for and mitigate anti-Asian hate crimes.
Specifically, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act 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.
It would 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; and expand culturally competent and linguistically appropriate public education campaigns, and collection of data and public reporting of hate crimes.
Additionally, the bill will issue guidance on 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.