President Biden and Vice President Harris appear in Atlanta after meeting with executives from Georgia’s Asian-American and Pacific islander communities on Friday. Patrick Semansky / AP Hide caption
Patrick Semansky / AP
Patrick Semansky / AP
Even before six Asian women were killed in the fatal spas shootings in the Atlanta area, President Biden took steps to counter the recent surge in violence against Asians and Asian Americans by making strong statements against hatred and harassment Federal government banning employment had the type of “inflammatory and xenophobic” language used by its predecessor and hired senior administrative leaders to hold “listening sessions” with community leaders and advocates.
With a strong focus on the troubling trend, Asia-American and Pacific Islander leaders are now calling for specific, measurable responses from Biden and his Justice Department.
“Right now, people are scared to leave their homes,” said Cynthia Choi, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate. “I think that the fundamental rejection of your feeling of security is a violation of our human rights. And I think that this must be taken seriously and urgently.”
This week, Biden and Vice President Harris, the first Asian American elected to that position, once again focused on a trip to promote the benefits of the coronavirus relief package and instead meet with Asian American lawmakers and other community leaders in Georgia.
“Too many Asian Americans have walked up and down the streets worrying. They woke up every morning over the past year feeling that their safety and the safety of their loved ones are at stake,” Biden said after the To meet. “You have been attacked, accused, scapegoated and molested.”
“One thing we know does well is to serve as a healer and as a person who understands grief,” said John Yang of Asian Americans Advancing Justice. “A person who understands that we need to focus on the victims and their families first and make sure they are cared for. That is what our community certainly hopes for. And then we talk about solutions from there.”
There are a variety of proposed solutions to curb violence, many of which focus on the role that the Department of Justice could play. Attorney General Merrick Garland and other Justice Department officials have met with leaders from Asian and Pacific islander groups, including several meetings this week, according to multiple sources familiar with the meetings.
Gregg Orton, the national director of the National Council of Americans in the Asia-Pacific Region, said that if President Biden approves his budget, it should significantly increase funding for programs in the Justice Department aimed at engaging communities.
“We can have as many listening sessions as we want and I think it’s great that a department is making themselves available for this type of engagement,” said Orton. “But really, until we reach the local people and support not only the community organizers but the communities themselves, it is difficult to see great progress.”
One of the areas that leaders say they could benefit from increased funding is the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service, established under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
It provides communities dealing with racist or other tension, professional mediators, and other services to help resolve conflict. In the past, the Community Relations Service has responded at moments like the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police shooting of Michael Brown, or the 1992 LA riots after white cops were beaten against black ones Motorists had been acquitted of Rodney King.
“Your job is to interact with the community, and not in a criminal, criminal or criminal way,” Yang said. “Your job is rather to meet with community members and at the same time serve as a bridge to bring different community members together.”
A Justice Department spokesman said the Community Relations Service has been supporting AAPI communities since the pandemic began, including sharing best practices on responding to and preventing hate crimes, connecting people with government resources, and helping implement solutions made by groups were identified in the local community.
“Good data is an indication of good policy making”
On Capitol Hill, Legislature of the House this week held a hearing on anti-Asian discrimination and violence, the first in several decades.
Democratic lawmakers are reintroducing laws to aid law enforcement responses to hate crimes against Asian Americans. Among other things, the bill would designate a Justice Department official to expedite the review of hate crimes reported to law enforcement agencies at the federal, state or local levels. The bill’s sponsor, New York Democratic MP Grace Meng, told NPR’s Everything considered that the goal is “really more education and accessible resources for our community.”
Before leaving for Georgia, Biden issued a statement calling on Congress to pass the laws. He stated that “every person in our nation deserves to live his life with security, dignity and respect”.
Meng and other Asian American leaders have also raised questions about the availability of good data-tracking cases for racial violence. The Stop AAPI Hate group began collecting data on incidents of hate and harassment against Asian Americans and Pacific islanders in the United States last March. In a report released on the day of the fatal shootings, the group said there had been nearly 3,800 such incidents between mid-March 2020 and the end of February this year.
A person holds a sign during the Asian Solidarity March rally against recent anti-Asian crimes on March 18 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. KEREM YUCEL / AFP via Getty Images are hiding subtitles
KEREM YUCEL / AFP via Getty Images
KEREM YUCEL / AFP via Getty Images
“I think it’s extremely important to understand that those who took our survey stated that the main reason they came to our website was to register a ‘Me too’ to say: “This happened to me, this happened to my older parents while they were walking my toddler,” said Choi, the co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate. “They wanted to be part of a collective voice.”
Still, these numbers are self-reported and anecdotal, and some AAPI leaders say that ultimately the infrastructure for reporting hate crimes in the country should be overhauled.
“Good data is a reason for good policy making,” said Orton. “We just can’t expect the government to make programming decisions about programs unless they really understand the communities they are trying to protect.”
Bidens January memorandum To Combat Racism and Xenophobia Against Asian Americans Instructs Attorney General “To Expand Data Collection And Public Reporting Of Hate Incidents”.
Democratic lawmakers plan to reintroduce the No Hate Act, which aims to improve reporting of hate crimes, expand resources for victims, and strengthen federal laws to combat hate speech and attack.
“Give us a point person”
Jo-Ann Yoo, the executive director of the Asian American Federation, said it was also important that crime victims or witnesses receive culturally competent assistance in navigating the legal system.
“For example, some Asian elders may not understand how a question is worded or how law enforcement officers ask a question. How we reach out has to be very different,” Yoo said. “It’s not what we see in terms of law and order. It has to be very, very nuanced, so we have to have people in the DOJ who look like us, who speak our language, who understand the culture, to get on with everyone to get in touch. ” these tools. “
The Justice Department has translated its hate crime resource website and reporting portal into additional languages, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese and Arabic.
For Shekar Narasimhan, the urgency to respond to anti-Asian harassment and violence underscores why he believes it is vital that Biden’s government reflect the diversity of the nation. Narasimhan, the chairman of the AAPI Victory Fund, has raised the need for greater representation of Asia in Biden’s cabinet and wants the Justice Department to appoint an official to deal specifically with these issues.
“Give us a point person so we can have a briefing every month. That person can talk to us about what they have learned, what is going on, and some questions,” said Narasimhan. “And we will bring together people from other churches who tend not to be heard.”
The Ministry of Justice has not appointed a central person on these issues. However, a department spokesman says further meetings with lawmakers and AAPI executives are planned.
Narasimhan said recent events underscore the need for the Senate to ratify civil rights attorney Vanita Gupta, President Biden’s election, to serve in the Justice Department’s third-highest job.
“You need a very high level person who has access to resources,” he said. “She comes with the knowledge, the work and the sensitivity to start speaking tomorrow morning.”