On May 20, 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law S. 937 COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to combat the ongoing rise in violence and hate-motivated crimes against the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (“AAPI”) community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) introduced the Act, which passed with bipartisan support in the Senate on April 22, 2021 and in the House of Representatives on May 18, 2021.
The Act requires the U.S. Attorney General to designate an officer or employee of the Department of Justice to facilitate the expedited review and report of COVID-19-related hate crimes and to provide support to state and local law enforcement agencies to respond to these hate crimes. It will also require the Attorney General to issue guidance to state and local law enforcement agencies on how to establish online reporting of hate crimes that is accessible to people with disabilities and in different languages. Moreover, the Act incorporates the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act which provides increased resources for hate crimes reporting to state and local governments and assistance to victims of hate crimes.
In addition to providing guidance to law enforcement agencies, the Act also offers grants for state-run hate crime hotlines. The Act requires that these hotlines direct individuals to law enforcement, if appropriate, or local support services. It also requires that all staff members operating the hotline are trained and knowledgeable about the applicable federal, state and local hate crimes and local law enforcement resources and support services. Additionally, the hotline must be accessible to individuals with disabilities and limited English proficiency.
The passage of this Act marks an important step towards stopping violence and hate-motivated crimes against the AAPI community. This Act was greatly needed, as we continue to see diverse communities being marginalized due to hatred and racism. Tressler’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee applauds the bipartisan support of this much needed piece of legislation and the signing of this Act.
About Catherine Geisler
Catherine Geisler is an associate in the Insurance Practice Group. She represents insurance carriers and insureds in a wide range of insurance coverage matters involving policies such as commercial general liability policies, commercial umbrella/excess policies, commercial auto policies, privacy liability policies, professional liability policies and business owners’ policies. Catherine’s work includes analyzing insurance coverage issues, assessing insurance carriers’ risks, preparing coverage opinions and position letters and handling all aspects of insurance coverage litigation in state and federal courts.