Shaheen-Backed Legislation to Address Surge of Anti-Asian Hate Crimes during COVID-19 Signed into LawMay 20, 2021
**The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act would bolster DOJ, state and local efforts to combat hate crimes**
(Washington, DC) – Today, President Biden signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, legislation cosponsored by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) to address the rise of hate crimes and violence targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) during the 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 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).
“The surge in hate crimes against Asian Americans is abhorrent and demands a meaningful response to root out hate and hold perpetrators to account. I applaud Senator Hirono for her leadership on this legislation and I’m very pleased that President Biden has signed it into law so these measures can now be implemented,” said Shaheen. “The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act takes important steps to improve federal, state and local responses to the alarming rise of hate crimes across the country and help ensure perpetrators face justice. No American should have to live in fear for their safety due to their race, religion or creed. It is on all of us to take a stand and fight back against hatred and bigotry in all forms.”
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.
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