MN Asian American Leaders Push for Hate Crime Reforms
Monday, April 12, 2021
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota's Asian American leaders are pressing state lawmakers to adopt legislation to update the state's hate-crime laws.
The community is still reeling from the recent tragedy in Georgia and increased backlash since the pandemic started.
A proposal which has seen movement in the House would expand what could be reported as bias crimes, and provide grants for community groups to help compile victim reports.
Bo Thao-Urabe, executive director for the Coalition of Asian American Leaders, noted the outpouring of recent support has helped, but said they would like to see a sustained commitment, and not what she calls "chronic empathy."
"Where something tragic happens, and then we say 'sorry' to the community, and then we move on," Thao-Urabe explained.
The coalition and other groups have also reported more hateful messages and other incidents during the pandemic, as the virus was first detected in China.
The bill, House File 1691, has passed in a House committee, but a companion bill hasn't received a Senate hearing.
Republican opponents cite concerns over gender-identity language. Some GOP lawmakers have also expressed concern about adding training requirements for law enforcement at a time when police are dealing with other key reforms.
Thao-Urabe acknowledged policymakers and other key service providers are juggling multiple crises.
However, she warned placing these ideas on the back burner only recycles the longstanding problem.
"If we know anything from history, we know that these things don't go away," Thao-Urabe asserted. "And certainly, racism doesn't just disappear."
She added they have warned about anti-Asian sentiments for a long time.
Nationally, the group Stop AAPI Hate has tracked nearly 3,800 hate incidents over the past year.
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