The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act (S. 937) will soon come to the Senate floor following an overwhelming, bipartisan 92-6 vote in favor of advancing it. Introduced by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), the bill would strengthen federal efforts to address hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans in several ways: designate a Department of Justice employee to expedite the review of COVID-19 hate crimes, provide guidance for state and local officials for online reporting of such crimes, and require the department to issue guidance to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the pandemic.
Stop AAPI Hate reported 3,795 incidents from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021. The organization estimates that these are only a fraction of the actual incidents that occurred, which included physical assault, verbal harassment, online harassment, and civil rights violations such as refusal of service and workplace discrimination. Elderly Asian Americans have been knocked to the ground and pummeled. Some citizens have been spat on. A woman in Marietta, Ga. was confronted in a pharmacy by someone who sprayed her with Lysol and yelled “You’re the infection! Go home! We don’t want you here!”
In our current climate, words can easily incite violent—even deadly—acts. Such xenophobia must be condemned, especially during this unprecedented public health crisis. We must stand together to affirm that these words and actions do not represent who we are.
Email your senators and representative and tell them to support the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.