COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act bolsters DOJ efforts to combat hate crimes
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Representative Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) in introducing legislation to address the rise of hate crimes and violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Communities across California, which is home to more Asian Americans than any other state in the country, have seen a significant rise in APPI hate crimes over the past year.
“I am disturbed by the recent increase in hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in California and across the country,” Senator Alex Padilla said. “It is clear that this uptick in violence against Asian Americans is the direct result of the racist rhetoric used by political leaders with regard to the pandemic and we must take action to address it. The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act will direct law enforcement to better collaborate across jurisdictions and expedite the response to COVID-19 related hate crimes, and will work to mitigate racially discriminatory language used to describe the pandemic.”
The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act would direct the U.S. Attorney General to designate an official whose sole responsibility will be to expedite review of COVID-19 hate crimes from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The legislations also directs the Attorney General to issue guidance to state and local law enforcement agencies on appropriate public education campaigns and the collection of data on COVID-19 hate crimes.
The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act directs DOJ to:
- Designate a DOJ employee to assist with expedited review of COVID-19 hate crimes reported to federal, state, and/or local law enforcement;
- Provide 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 detailing best practices to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the COVID–19 pandemic, in coordination with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the COVID–19 Health Equity Task Force and community-based organizations.
Padilla recently questioned FBI Director Christopher Wray on the rise in AAPI hate crimes during a Judiciary Committee oversight hearing, and called on Wray to ensure the FBI is taking action to address the increase in hate crimes and work to build trust with communities of color.