Congresswoman Nikema Williams Votes to Strengthen Defenses Against Hate Crimes, Protect AAPI Communities
Congresswoman Nikema Williams (GA-05) issued the following statement after voting for the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, landmark legislation that strengthens the nation’s defenses against hate crimes. This bipartisan bill will help combat the growing and grave crisis of anti-AAPI discrimination, violence, and bigotry stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Thousands of hate crimes have been documented in every state over the last year. Tragically, that number includes the March 16 Atlanta spa shootings where eight people, primarily of Asian descent, were killed,” said Congresswoman Williams. “Everyone has the right to live without fear of violence or harassment. I will always stand up and speak out against all forms of violence and bigotry. That is why I was proud to pass this life-saving legislation, so we can combat the rising epidemic of anti-Asian hate crimes and honor the victims of the Atlanta Spa shootings.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a dramatic increase in discrimination, hate crimes and violence targeted at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. According to a new report issued on May 6, over the last year more than 6,600 reported hate crimes against Asian Americans have been reported across all 50 states, with many more going unreported.
President Joe Biden has taken swift action, including his Day One Executive Order to marshal federal resources to combat racism, xenophobia and bigotry against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and his March 30 announcement of additional steps to combat anti-AAPI hate.
Building on this progress, this vital bill will speed up and strengthen our response to hate crimes, including requiring the designation of an official at the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an expedited review of all COVID-related hate crimes. The bill also includes important provisions to improve the reporting of hate crimes, authorize grants to states to establish and run hate crime hotlines, support law enforcement agencies in training officers on how to identify hate crimes, and help state and local governments develop a system for collecting hate crime data.
“Ending the scourge of hatred and violence is a critical step toward building a brighter, safer and fairer future for all of our children,” Congresswoman Williams continued. “Building on the important steps taken by President Biden, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act offers robust action to bolster our nation’s defenses against hate crimes and help put an end to this crisis. I applaud President Biden for his leadership, and my colleagues across the aisle and across the Capitol, as we pass this critical bill into law.”
In April, S. 937 passed the Senate on a nearly unanimous vote, 94-1. After being approved today by the House, the legislation will go to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.