Biden’s AG pick Merrick Garland has a big task ahead of him: confronting the uptick in hate crimes against Asian Americans

Merrick Garland

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The recent string of attacks against elderly Asian Americans in northern California has sparked national outrage and warnings from civil rights groups that such violence will only intensify in the upcoming months if President Joe Biden’s Justice Department does not act immediately.

It’s a serious problem nationwide beyond the San Francisco Bay area too, one that some blame on former President Donald Trump because of his racist rhetoric describing COVID-19 as the ‘Chinese virus’ or ‘Kung Flu.’ 

Incidents of COVID-related hate crimes against Asian Americans have not dissipated even though Trump is out of the White House. Over the last month, one of the attacks against Asian Americans included the fatal assault of 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee, an immigrant from Thailand, who was violently shoved to the cement ground and later died in San Francisco. 

Merrick Garland, Biden’s nominee to serve as attorney general, hasn’t said anything publicly on this specific issue — yet. It didn’t come up during day 1 of Garland’s Senate confirmation hearings on Monday, though the federal appellate court judge did speak more generally about confronting racial discrimination and enforcing civil rights laws.

“That mission remains urgent because we do not yet have equal justice,” Garland said. “Communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, education, employment, and the criminal justice system; and bear the brunt of the harm caused by pandemic, pollution, and climate change.”

Garland most definitely will be dealing with this issue should his nomination get approved. 

Just days after his inauguration, Biden signed an executive order vowing to combat xenophobia by calling on his incoming attorney general to develop a plan to collect more data on hate crimes and work with local agencies to prevent hate crimes committed against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

“Hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans and Asian immigrants have skyrocketed during the pandemic,” Vice President Kamala Harris wrote on Twitter not long after Biden signed the executive order. “We must continue to commit ourselves to combating racism and discrimination.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat who represents a San Francisco district with one of the nation’s largest Asian American communities, also condemned the recent attacks.

“As we celebrate the Lunar New Year as a source of joy, it’s also a source of pain for us at this time because of all of these incidents,” she said during a virtual news conference on February 19. “Our diversity is our strength, our unity is our power, and we have unity on this subject.”

Advocacy groups call for action 

Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that tracks hate crimes and incidents committed against Asian Americans across the country has recorded at least 2,808 incidents of discrimination against the AAPI community between March 19 and December 31, 2020, a time period coinciding with the deadly coronavirus pandemic ravaging the US.

While the FBI hasn’t released its official data on 2020 hate crimes, several studies have found an overall spike in violence targeting Asian Americans since the pandemic began, a finding that the Biden …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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