Asian Hate Crimes
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, hate crimes and hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have drastically increased. In fact, the national coalition of Stop AAPI Hate recorded more than 6,600 reports of hate incidents directed at AAPIs between February 2020 and March 2021, including verbal harassment (65%), shunning (18%), physical assaults (13%), and civil rights violations (10%). I believe that we must take a multifaceted approach to fight against the anti-Asian hate, especially by ensuring that the perpetrators are prosecuted for their crimes
STRENGTHENING HATE CRIME PROSECUTION
The hate crime bill introduced by Sen. Mazie Hirono and Rep. Grace Meng took a step in the right direction by streamlining the collection of hate crime data and providing further training to local law enforcement agencies, but it failed to address the biggest problem: prosecution.
In the case of hate crimes, there is an extremely strong prosecutorial discretion. Since prosecutors have to make the extra effort to prove that the crime is racially driven, many of them simply refuse to charge the suspect with hate crimes. For instance, recently, the Manhattan District Attorney office declined to prosecute Salman Muflehi as a hate crime perpetrator after he knifed a 36-year-old Asian American victim in Chinatown. A recent report even shows that, between 2005 and 2019, the Justice Department refused to prosecute 82% of hate crime suspects investigated.
I believe that we should both support and incentivize prosecutors to use the hate-crimes provision when needed by:
Providing funding and resources for states and localities to create specific hate-crime prosecution units
Redirecting the Department of Justice to create hate crime prosecutorial guidelines
Encouraging prosecutors to form strategic partnership with Asian American community groups, such as Michigan Alliance Against Hate Crimes
Increasing penalties for hate-crime convictions to incentivize prosecutors
America has become more diverse in the past decades, but our Congress has failed to reflect this change. Although Asian Americans constitute 5.7% of the U.S. population, Asian American Congressmen only amount to 3% of the Congressional membership. Having Asian American representative is critical to ensuring that policies in Congress reflect the interests of the community.
ADVOCATE ASIAN AMERICAN VOTING WITH #8BY8
In addition to Congressional representation, Asian American voices aren’t being heard in government as much as they should be because of low voter turnout. That is why I have sponsored the #8by8 Stop Asian Hate initiative to encourage AAPI voter turnout. Learn more at www.8by8.us.
BUILD PREVENTATIVE HATE CRIME POLICIES
Finally, it is important to remember that most hate incidents we experience on the street, such as verbal harassment and shunning, do not amount to crimes. Thus, to fully fight back anti-Asian hate, we must adopt preventive, educational policies as well.
I believe that Congress should provide funding and support to Asian American community-based groups, which are often the first responders to incidents of hate. Also, we should increase the public exposure to the voices and histories of the Asian American community by expanding ethnic studies and education.