Shaheen-Backed Legislation to Address Surge of Anti-Asian Hate Crimes during COVID-19 Clears Senate
**The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act would bolster DOJ, state and local efforts to combat hate crimes**
(Washington, DC) – Today, the Senate cleared legislation cosponsored by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) to address the rise of hate crimes and violence targeted at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act would assign a point person at the Department of Justice (DOJ) to expedite the review of COVID-19-related hate crimes, improve hate crime reporting to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), establish state-run hate crime hotlines and rehabilitate perpetrators of hate crimes. The legislation would also provide support for state and local law enforcement agencies to respond to these hate crimes and coordinate with local and federal partners to mitigate racially discriminatory language used to describe the pandemic. The legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and will now be sent to the House of Representatives for a vote.
“With the alarming surge in hate crimes against Asian-Americans across our nation, every effort must be made to combat these despicable acts of violence and ensure assailants face justice,” said Senator Shaheen. “The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act takes a number of important steps to improve federal, state and local responses to the increase in hate crimes across the country. By passing this legislation with a strong bipartisan vote, the Senate has sent a powerful message of support to our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, and I now urge the House to do the same as quickly as possible.”
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 improve data collection and reporting of hate crimes and expand public education campaigns to raise awareness of hate crimes;
- Provide grants to state and local government to assist them with entering crime data into the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System, including information on hate crimes;
- Establish grants to states to create state-run hate crime reporting hotlines;
- Provide grants to law enforcement agencies that establish a policy on identifying, investigating and reporting hate crimes, develop a system for collecting hate crimes data, establish a hate crimes unit within the agency, and engage in community relations to address hate crimes in that jurisdiction;
- Allow a court to order a perpetrator of a hate crime to undertake educational classes or community service directly related to the community harmed by the perpetrator’s offense; 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.