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Video: On Senate Floor, Mark Warner Condemns Anti-Asian Hate Crimes, Expresses Support For Legislation To Curb Surge In Violence

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From Sen. Mark Warner’s office:

ON SENATE FLOOR, WARNER CONDEMNS ANTI-ASIAN HATE CRIMES & EXPRESSES SUPPORT FOR LEGISLATION TO CURB SURGE IN VIOLENCE

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) took to the Senate floor to express his support for the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, legislation that would be particularly impactful in Virginia, where more than 565,000 individuals make up the nation’s 8th-largest population of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). In his remarks, Sen. Warner called attention to the alarming spike in hate crimes against Asian Americans and urged his colleagues to stand up to hate.

“It’s tragic but not surprising that hate crimes in America have always been critically underreported. In fact, reports released by the Department of Justice in recent years suggest that the majority of hate crimes are not reported,” said Sen. Warner on the Senate floor. “Not only does this mask the true scale of hate incidents across our nation, it also means that investigative resources and support structures may not be available to the victims who need them. This problem can be exacerbated by cultural and language barriers, and made even worse by the pandemic, which has made it more difficult for folks to get connected with reporting mechanisms or useful resources. Fortunately, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act seeks to address these challenges by providing a clearinghouse for these cases.”

Introduced by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and cosponsored by Sen. Warner, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act would help address the surge of anti-Asian hate crimes, which have surged during the pandemic as a result of racist rhetoric that places undue blame on Asian Americans for COVID-19. Specifically, this bill would direct the Department of Justice (DOJ) to designate a point person to expedite the review of COVID-19-related hate crimes. This bill would also provide support for state and local law enforcement agencies to respond to these hate crimes, and promote coordination with local and federal partners to mitigate racially discriminatory language used to describe the pandemic.

In his remarks, Sen. Warner also highlighted the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, legislation he cosponsored to improve the reporting of hate crimes, and expand assistance and resources for victims of hate crimes.

“Over the past decade, our nation has seen a steady rise in hate crimes. Groups and individuals targeting minority and religious groups have increasingly perpetrated sickening acts of violence fueled by hateful ideologies. In Charlottesville, Virginia, we saw this hate and violence on our streets when a white supremacist drove a car into group of peaceful protestors, injuring many and killing a young woman, Heather Heyer. It’s critical that we give our law enforcement the tools they need to curb these horrific acts. That’s why I’m also a cosponsor of the bipartisan Jabara-Heyer NO Hate Act,” said Sen. Warner. “Both the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act are straightforward pieces of legislation that give victims and law enforcement officers the tools they desperately need to tackle the increasing prevalence of hate incidents in our country. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to meet this challenge and stand up to hate.”

The Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act would help combat the surge in hate crimes by improving reporting of hate crimes, establishing hate crime hotlines, allowing judges to require community-specific education and community service for perpetrators of hate crimes, and encouraging law enforcement prevention, training, and education on hate crimes.

Sen. Warner’s remarks as prepared are available below:

I rise today in support of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our nation has witnessed a surge in racism, xenophobia, and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. In fact, between March of last year and February of this year there were nearly 3,800 hate incidents targeting Asian Americans. 

It should go without saying that these actions have no place in our communities. To address this spike in anti-Asian rhetoric and hate crimes, we must stand in solidarity with the AAPI community and we must act against these heinous crimes.

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act helps address this crisis head on.

This bill, very simply, requires Attorney General Garland to designate a coordinator within the Department of Justice to expedite, review, and facilitate reporting of COVID-19 related hate crimes.

Further, it requires the DOJ to issue guidance to state and local law enforcement to equip them with the tools needed to deal with the disturbing surge in incidents targeting the AAPI community.

It’s tragic but not surprising that hate crimes in America have always been critically underreported. In fact, reports released by the Department of Justice in recent years suggest that the majority of hate crimes are not reported. 

Our current patchwork system paired with inconsistent reporting and resources guarantees that many instances of hate related violence and crimes go uncounted. Not only does this mask the true scale of hate incidents across our nation, it also means that investigative resources and support structures may not be available to the victims who need them.

This problem can be exacerbated by cultural and language barriers, and made even worse by the pandemic, which has made it more difficult for folks to get connected with reporting mechanisms or useful resources.

Fortunately, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act seeks to address these challenges by providing a clearinghouse for these cases.

Over the past decade, our nation has seen a steady rise in hate crimes. Groups and individuals targeting minority and religious groups have increasingly perpetrated sickening acts of violence fueled by hateful ideologies.

In Charlottesville, Virginia, we saw this hate and violence on our streets when a white supremacist drove a car into group of peaceful protestors, injuring many and killing a young woman, Heather Heyer. 

It’s critical that we give our law enforcement the tools they need to curb these horrific acts.

That’s why I’m also a cosponsor of the bipartisan Jabara-Heyer NO Hate Act.

This bill modernizes our reporting system for hate crimes so that we can respond to accurate data.

It also provides grants to establish hate crime hotlines to record information about hate crimes and to redirect victims and witnesses to law enforcement and local support services, as needed.

Finally, this bill provides a federal private right of action for hate crime victims and allows judges to sentence community-specific education and community service. Together, these changes create a new model for addressing these crimes and preventing them from going unreported or unpunished.

Both the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act are straightforward pieces of legislation that give victims and law enforcement officers the tools they desperately need to tackle the increasing prevalence of hate incidents in our country. 

I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to meet this challenge and stand up to hate.

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