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Biden urges Congress to pass hate crime legislation over violence against Asian Americans

Melissa Min (L) attends a vigil with her son James in solidarity with the Asian American community after increased attacks on the community since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic a year ago, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., March 17, 2021.Rachel Wisniewski | ReutersCNBC PoliticsRead more of CNBC’s politics coverage:”While we do not yet know motive, as I said last week, we condemn in the strongest possible terms the ongoing crisis of gender-based and anti-Asian violence that has long plagued our nation,” Biden said in a statement.The endorsement also comes a day after a congressional hearing on violence against Asian Americans, the first in 34 years.Biden and several lawmakers and activists at the Thursday hearing pressed Congress to pass hate crime legislation introduced by Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., and Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, earlier this month.Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, is seen during the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Merrick Garland, nominee to be Attorney General, on Monday, February 22, 2021.Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty ImagesA study by advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate released Tuesday recorded 3,795 reports of hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders between March 19, 2020, and Feb. 28, 2021.The incidents include verbal slurs, physical attacks, workplace discrimination and online harassment, among other forms of prejudice. Many of the incidents were reported retroactively from 2020.The group emphasizes that the tally represents just a fraction of the number of hate incidents experienced by Asian Americans across the country.Some political leaders and advocates during the congressional hearing noted that hate crime legislation does not necessarily address all forms of hate experienced by Asian Americans.At a news conference in Atlanta on Thursday morning, Georgia state Rep. Bee Nguyen said: “Hate crime laws are not preventative. They are used in the aftermath as a prosecutorial tool.”Prosecuting hate crimes requires law enforcement to find proof that incidents are racially motivated.”While many of the recent anti-Asian incidents may not meet legal definition of a hate crime, these attacks nonetheless create an unacceptable environment of fear and terror in Asian American communities,” Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said during the House hearing.



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