With a 94-1 vote, the U.S. Senate passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act Thursday, a bill that would expedite the Justice Department’s review of hate crimes related to COVID-19 and designate an official at the department to oversee the effort, as well as issue new guidance to state and local law enforcement for online reporting.
The bill is intended to target an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes that have come during the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. House is considering a similar measure.
As reporters continue to follow the progress of this legislation, Florida State University’s Brendan Lantz is available to offer comments on hate crimes and the proposal.
Brendan Lantz, assistant professor and director of Hate Crime Research and Policy Institute, College of Criminology and Criminal Justice
(850) 644-2379; email@example.com
As director of the Hate Crime Research and Policy Institute, Lantz researches hate crime, violence, victimization and co-offending.
“One of the primary purposes of this bill is to expedite review of COVID-19-related hate crimes, and these hate crimes are a real issue right now. Addressing them directly is important because these crimes have significant impacts for not only those who are directly victimized but the larger community as well. When someone is victimized for no other reason than that they are Asian (or perceived to be Asian), the impacts of that crime reverberate throughout the Asian community. If this additional review translates to additional resources and guidance for handling hate crimes, it has the potential to make a difference.
The bill also provides guidance for establishing online reporting avenues for hate crimes. This may be particularly important because it is well-established that many hate crime victims are reluctant to report their victimization to the police.
That said, hate crimes are a bit under the microscope right now, getting more attention because of the COVID-19-related increases that we are seeing, and they need to be addressed. But the reality is that many of the issues we are facing with the tracking of hate crimes have been serious issues since long before the pandemic began. So, we should be careful to view this legislation as one step toward addressing these issues. Moving forward, laws like this should be coupled with other legislation aimed at long-term changes in addressing and tracking hate crimes.”