Queens lawmaker introduces resolution supporting COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act

Sunnyside residents hold a rally against anti-Asian hate crimes on March 6, 2021. (File photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

Councilman Peter Koo introduced a resolution to the City Council on Thursday, April 29, in support of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to address the surge of anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic. 

Koo’s resolution calls upon Congress to pass, and the president to sign, the legislation that would facilitate the expedited review of COVID-19 hate crimes, provide support for state and local law enforcement agencies to respond to hate crimes and coordinate with local and federal partners to mitigate racially discriminatory language used to describe the pandemic.

The relentless attacks on Asians throughout the country needs to be acknowledged and fought by every state in the union, Koo said. 

“This requires federal action to make sweeping changes in the way we deal with hate crimes, especially in areas where there may not be large Asian populations, and law enforcement may not have the linguistic or cultural competence to address hate crimes and bias incidents as they occur,” Koo said. “They cannot simply explain discriminatory language, like ‘China virus,’ or ‘Kung Flu.’ These are not partisan words, and this is not a partisan issue. This affects all of us.”

Koo thanked Congresswoman Grace Meng and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) for taking action on the issue by reintroducing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act that was unanimously passed with a vote of 94-1 in the Senate last week. 

In response, Meng commended Koo and his colleague, Councilwoman Margaret Chin (D-Manhattan) for their leadership in bringing attention to the passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to the City Council. 

“I have been so heartened and grateful by the tremendous support, solidarity and allyship that I have received since I reintroduced the bill last month, and it would be an honor to have the City Council endorse the measure as well,” Meng said. 

The House is expected to vote on the legislation next month, and President Biden has expressed his support for the bill, Meng said. 

“The ongoing discrimination and racist attacks against Asian Americans in New York and across the country has been horrifying, and we must act,” Meng said. “I look forward to this resolution being voted on by the City Council, and I encourage all its members to support it and stand with us in calling for an end to anti-Asian hate.”

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