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City Council passes Queens lawmaker’s resolution calling on Congress to pass COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act

Councilman Peter Koo (Carlotta Mohamed/QNS)

The City Council on Wednesday, May 12, passed a resolution by Councilman Peter Koo calling upon Congress to pass — and the president to sign — the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which would facilitate an expedited review of COVID-19 hate crimes against Asian Americans. 

A supermajority of 37 members signed onto Resolution 1619 that was introduced by Koo and his colleague, Margaret Chin (D-Manhattan).

“As our nation continues to grapple with an onslaught of anti-Asian hate crimes, it is imperative that we support federal legislation that will offer guidance to localities with little experience in dealing with the Asian communities,” Koo said. “The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act will be the first step on our nation’s long road to recovery from both the pandemic and the discrimination and racism that has become far too prevalent in our culture.”

Chin commended the tireless work of their federal colleagues, Congresswoman Grace Meng and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) for championing legislation that will expedite the review of hate crimes related to COVID-19.

“Our communities have been ravaged by illness and loss from COVID-19, and racist attacks now threaten the lives of Asian Americans beyond the biological symptoms of coronavirus,” Chin said. 

According to the NYPD, there have been 81 hate crimes against Asians in New York City so far this year, up from 16 in the same period from last year.

As Asians continue to be victimized by hate crimes and bias incidents, the federal legislation, carried by Meng and Hirono, would accomplish three key goals: Designate an officer of the Justice Department to conduct expedited reviews of hate crimes; issue guidance for state and local law enforcement agencies for reporting in multiple languages, and expand culturally competent and linguistically appropriate public education campaigns, and collection of data and public reporting of hate crimes; and issue guidance describing best practices to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to the passage of the resolution, Meng said she is grateful for the council’s support for her COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, and truly “appreciates the solidarity it has shown in calling for the passage of the bill.” 

“I applaud all the Council members who voted to swiftly pass this resolution, and stand with us against the sickening hate and violence directed at Asian Americans,” said Meng, who commended Koo and Chin for their leadership. 

Meng says she looks forward to the House voting on the measure following the bill’s recent passage in the Senate. 

“With all us working together, I am hopeful that we will Stop Asian Hate!” Meng said. 

Council members Adrienne Adams and I. Daneek Miller, co-chairs of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, said they are proud to co-sponsor the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Resolution 1619. 

“The spike in hate crimes and bias incidents against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic is deeply troubling, and we need our partners in Washington to take immediate action,” said Adams, who is also chair of the Committee on Public Safety. 

“This legislation will play a key role in addressing this surge in hate crimes here in New York City and across this country.”

According to Miller, for the past year, the “twindemic” of COVID-19 and racism have negatively impacted the health and safety of communities of color, and the AAPI community in particular continues to be singularly plagued by its effects. 

“I wholeheartedly stand with my Asian American and Pacific Islander brothers and sisters in denouncing the hateful crimes that have become all too frequent around the city and across the country, and am proud to co-sponsor COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act Resolution 1619,” Miller said. 

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