Home » ‘Bigots, we’re going after you’: Senate passes bill to crack down on anti-Asian hate crimes

‘Bigots, we’re going after you’: Senate passes bill to crack down on anti-Asian hate crimes

The Senate passed a bill with overwhelming bipartisan support Thursday to beef up prosecutions of hate crimes against Asian Americans amid a troubling uptick in bigoted attacks during the coronavirus pandemic.

The so-called COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act — which is the brainchild of Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono and New York Rep. Grace Meng, both Democrats — breezed through the Senate in a 94-1 vote.

Missouri Republican Josh Hawley was the only senator to vote against the bill. Four other Republicans didn’t vote.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the rare bipartisan feat is proof the usually gridlocked chamber can “work to solve important issues.” The Brooklyn-bred Democratic leader also offered a New York-centric anecdote for why the bill is needed.

“In New York, I’ve attended rally after rally and heard one story after another about Asian Americans who were afraid to ride the subway, afraid to go to work, afraid to walk down the streets, having to adjust their daily lives for fear of being spat upon, glared at or even worse,” Schumer said.

April 18, 2021: Asian-American stars detail their experiences with bias.

“This bill has a one-two punch: To assure the Asian American community we’re going after the bigotry against them and to tell the American people, particularly those bigots: We’re going after you.”

The legislation next heads to the House, which is expected to pass it before it goes to President Biden for a final signature.

The bill would require the Justice Department to hire a prosecutor whose sole job would be to expedite and expand federal investigations into hate crimes committed on the false notion that Asian Americans are to blame for COVID-19.

Nearly 4,000 such hate crimes have been reported across the country since the pandemic broke out last year, according to monitoring groups.

In New York City, at least 40 Asian Americans have been victims of COVID-related hate crimes as of mid-April, according to NYPD data, with more incidents believed to be unreported.

The bill would also provide training for local police departments on how to better detect, report and respond to hate crimes, while empowering the Department of Health and Human Services to keep racist language out of pandemic-related government literature.

Researchers have blamed the surge in hate crimes on racially inflammatory rhetoric about COVID-19 from conservatives like former President Donald Trump, who routinely calls it the “China virus.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer holds up his mask as he speaks at a news conference Thursday.

Schumer specifically took aim at Trump during his Senate floor speech.

“Over the past several years, forces of hate and bigotry seem to have gained strength, too often encouraged by our former president,” he said. “By passing this bill, the Senate makes it very clear that hate and discrimination against any group has no place in America.”

Meng, whose chamber plans to vote on the anti-hate crime measure early next month, lauded the Senate action and recounted hearing troubling stories from constituents in her Asian American-rich district in Queens.

“Families won’t let their kids go to the park or play outdoors. People are urging their parents and grandparents to stay inside, telling them that they’ll run their errands and deliver groceries to them,” she said. “Being forced to endure this terror and fear is unconscionable and unacceptable. Everybody in our country deserves to feel safe.”

Source (Ny Daily news)

Scroll to Top