May 12, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Over 75 Asian, LGBTQ groups oppose anti-Asian hate crimes bill

Photo of a crowd of protesters carrying Stop Asian Hate signs, as well as a sign with Atlanta victims' names

Photo: Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

More than 75 Asian and LGBTQ organizations issued a statement Wednesday rejecting the anti-Asian hate crime bill that recently soared through the Senate.

Why it matters: The groups say the bill will bolster law enforcement and further harm marginalized people. Their opposition reflects a fracture among Asian Americans as the community looks to address a yearlong spike in anti-Asian hate.

  • The bill, backed by prominent AAPI Congress members, including Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), aims to improve hate crime tracking and train police to better identify anti-Asian hate.
  • Lawmakers have denied criticisms that the bill reinforces policing. The House is expected to take up the bill in mid-May and will likely send the legislation to President Biden, who has said he would sign it.

What they're saying: In Wednesday's statement, published on writer Jenn Fang's blog, "Reappropriate," activists called the bill a contradiction of "Asian solidarity with Black, Brown, undocumented, trans, low-income, sex worker, and other marginalized communities whose liberation is bound together."

  • The bill does not create "systemic change" and only increases "crime statistics collection," the organizations write.
  • Relying on crime statistics does not actually prevent violence, they argue, pointing to the 2009 Matthew Shepard Act.
    • The Matthew Shepard Act expanded federal hate crime categories to include sexual orientation and gender identity, but the statement notes that the U.S. continues to see high rates of deadly anti-trans violence.
  • Bolstering law enforcement "ignores that police violence is also anti-Asian violence, which has disproportionately targeted Black and Brown Asians," they write.
    • The statement cites the deaths of Christian Hall and Angelo Quinto, Asian Americans who were recently killed by police during mental health crises.

The organizations called on members of Congress to oppose the legislation and instead shift resources from law enforcement to communities.

  • Investing in non-carceral alternatives and removing police presence from neighborhoods are among their demands.

The big picture: In 16 of the country's largest cities and counties, reports of anti-Asian hate crimes have surged 164% since this time last year, according to a recent study from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State University San Bernardino.

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