By Barbara Sprunt—May 20, 2021
Following overwhelming support from both chambers of Congress, President Biden signed legislation Thursday that addresses hate crimes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with particular emphasis on the increase in violence against Asian Americans.
At an event in the East Room of the White House, Biden thanked lawmakers for coming together to pass the legislation. He said standing against hatred and racism, which he called “the ugly poison that has long haunted and plagued our nation,” is what brings Americans together.
“My message to all of those who are hurting is: We see you and the Congress has said, we see you. And we are committed to stop the hatred and the bias,” he said.
The legislation, introduced by Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., and Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, aims to make the reporting of hate crimes more accessible at the local and state levels by boosting public outreach and ensuring reporting resources are available online in multiple languages.
It also directs the Department of Justice to designate a point person to expedite the review of hate crimes related to COVID-19 and authorizes grants to state and local governments to conduct crime-reduction programs to prevent and respond to hate crimes.
Vice President Harris introduced Biden ahead of the signing and reflected on the increase in violence against Asian Americans.
“This violence — it did not come from nowhere, and none of it is new. In my life, my lived experience, I have seen how hate can pervade our communities,” she said. Harris, who is the first Asian American vice president, added, “I have seen how hate can impede our progress. And I have seen how people uniting against hate can strengthen our country.”
Harris noted the work to combat racism doesn’t end with the signing of the bill.
“Here’s the truth: Racism exists in America. Xenophobia exists in America, antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia — it all exists. And so the work to address injustice wherever it exists remains the work ahead,” she said.
Read more at NPR.