WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed S. 937, the Senate-passed COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act which will now go to the President’s desk for his signature.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a dramatic increase in reports of hate crimes and racist incidents against those of Asian descent. Recent reports show a total of over 6,600 reported incidents of anti-Asian hate against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community across the country, and many more incidents have gone unheard or unreported.
“Currently, state law enforcement officers do not have to report hate crimes to federal authorities. The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act designates a point of contact in the Department of Justice to expedite the review of COVID-19 hate crimes and report out their findings to improve coordination between federal, state, local, and tribal resources and better understand the incidence of hate crimes across the country. The bill also provides funding to train law enforcement to better identify, investigate, and report hate crimes that occur in their jurisdiction. Finally, it funds further prevention and response tools such as establishing hate crime hotlines and creating rehabilitation programs for perpetrators of hate crimes to receive better education and provide restitution through community service.
“Misinformation and racist characterizations about COVID-19 has led to the stigmatization of those of Asian descent based on fear and xenophobia, putting the wellbeing of our communities and public health at risk. We must remain unified and vigilant to finish the fight against COVID-19 and uphold our resilient and diverse communities in Washington’s ninth district and across the country. I am proud to stand with my colleagues to take collective action to crush the widespread anti-Asian American racism amidst this pandemic and beyond.”