Caption: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congresswoman Barbara Lee at COVID Hate Crimes Act Press Conference (Courtesy Photo)

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) this week voted to pass H.R.1843, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which aims to combat the rise in Anti-Asian hate crimes since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the U.S. grapples with the horrific impacts of COVID-19, the Asian American community is also facing an alarming rise in anti-Asian violent attacks and discrimination. Since March 2020, Stop AAPI Hate has documented over 6,600 incidents of anti-Asian violence and verbal attacks against the Asian American community.

Thousands of law enforcement agencies also do not participate in the FBI’s hate crime reporting program or collect hate crime data. Additionally, 17 states do not require local law enforcement to collect data on hate crimes, and three states have no statutes governing the treatment of hate crimes.

“From the horrific shooting we saw in Atlanta to the attacks on the Asian community in my own district, I am outraged by the violence directed toward individuals, businesses, and families,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “Today’s passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act is an important step toward putting a stop to this violence and supporting the individuals and communities who have experienced these tragedies. I will continue working with my colleagues in the Tri-Caucus to demand accountability for these attacks and ensure the safety of our communities.”   

This legislation, among many things, would create a position at the Department of Justice to facilitate expedited review of COVID-19 hate crimes, require the Attorney General to issue guidance for the creation of online reporting mechanisms and the collection of disaggregated data, and direct federal agencies to work with community-based organizations to raise awareness of hate crimes during the pandemic.

For more information about the bill, click here.