WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) issued the following statement after the House passage of the bipartisan, bicameral COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act:
“While we celebrate AAPI communities during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, it is equally important to condemn horrible acts of hate and violence against Asian Americans that increased since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Rep Peters. “I cosponsored the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act because protecting AAPI communities requires a clear path to accountability and justice.”
Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic originated in Wuhan, China, anti-Asian rhetoric and prejudice spiked in the United States. A report by the non-profit organization ‘Stop AAPI Hate’ reveals that 3,795 incidents were submitted to the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021. Many advocates believe the scope of the crimes committed against AAPI communities has not been fully documented.
The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act requires the Attorney General to designate an individual to facilitate the expedited review of reported hate crimes since the beginning of the pandemic. It also requires the Justice Department to issue guidance to state and local governments for reporting systems of hate crimes, and help raise awareness of hate crimes during the pandemic. This bill includes the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, which provides grants to state and local governments and law enforcement agencies to boost the reporting of hate crimes to the federal government. Three grant programs will be focused on reporting systems, hate crime hotlines, and investigations and prevention efforts.
In light of the rise in hate crimes and violence targeting Asian Americans, Rep. Peters acknowledges how these events cause pain for the AAPI communities in the 52nd district. Days after the horrific shootings in Georgia that left eight people dead, he heard personal accounts from Asian-American and Pacific Islander community members and local leaders on discrimination they have felt even before the outbreak of COVID-19. Earlier this month, Rep. Peters participated in a virtual town hall hosted by the Asian Pacific American Coalition on the state of the Asian Pacific Islander American community in San Diego.
Later this week, the House will vote on a resolution to condemn the shootings in Atlanta on March 16, 2021 and reaffirm the House of Representative's commitment to combating hate, bigotry, and violence against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community. The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act now moves to the President’s desk to be signed into law.