Cantwell Statement on the Passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, as President Biden officially signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) issued the following statement:

“I applaud President Biden for signing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law. We have seen far too many instances of hate targeting minority communities, and since the start of the pandemic there has been an alarming rise in violent acts towards Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. This bill brings us a step closer towards holding those accountable who commit these violent crimes.” Cantwell said.

Cantwell is a cosponsor of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. The legislation will assign a point person at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to expedite the review and reporting of hate crimes and provide support for state, local, and Tribal law enforcement agencies to respond to them.

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act directs DOJ to:

  • Designate a DOJ employee to assist with expedited review of hate crimes reported to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement;
  • Provide guidance for state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to:
    • establish online reporting of hate crimes or incidents, and to have online reporting available in multiple languages;
    • expand culturally competent and linguistically appropriate public education campaigns, and collection of data and public reporting of hate crimes.

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act also includes the full text of the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, which:

  • Establishes incentives for state, local, and Tribal law enforcement to submit credible and complete hate crime reports;
  • Creates grants for state-run hate crime hotlines;
  • Creates grants for states to establish policies on:
    • identifying, investigating, and reporting hate crimes;
    • train law enforcement on how to identify hate crimes; and
    • develop a system for collecting hate crimes data;
  • Requires DOJ to collect and analyze data on hate crimes; and
  • Allows judges to require community service or educational programming for individuals convicted of a federal hate crime.

Immediately following the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act passage in the Senate, Cantwell spoke in support of the legislation on the Senate floor. In her remarks, Cantwell stated the importance of this legislation to, “help us in shining a very bright light on an alarming rise in violence against the Asian American Pacific Islander community, and help us with new tools to combat that crime.”

Video of Senator Cantwell’s floor speech is available HERE, audio is HERE, and a transcript is HERE.