More than 75 Asian and LGBTQ groups are opposing an anti-Asian crime bill that recently passed through the Senate.
In a statement posted to the blog “Reappropriate,” the groups said they opposed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act because it “relies on anti-Black, law enforcement responses to the recent rise in anti-Asian bias incidents across the US.”
"The bolstering of law enforcement and criminalization does not keep us safe and in fact harms and furthers violence against Asian communities facing some of the greatest disparities and attacks," the groups wrote.
The Senate passed the bill 94-1 in late April, with GOP Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyBiden's push for unity collides with entrenched partisanship The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike The Memo: Culture war intensifies over school boards MORE (R-Mo.) being the only no vote.
The measure was largely focused on raising awareness of anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination, which spiked during the coronavirus pandemic.
The conversation was given new national attention after a spree of shootings at three Atlanta-area spas that killed eight people, six of which were women of Asian descent.
The suspect, Robert Aaron Long, is facing multiple murder and assault charges. Prosecutors in Fulton County are planning to seek the death penalty for Long.
Led by Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike Democrats downplay deadlines on Biden's broad spending plan Senate poised to stave off debt crisis MORE (D-Hawaii), the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act would require the Department of Justice to designate an official to review coronavirus-related hate crimes and beef up state and local resources for it.
The measure also strengthens the reporting of hate crimes and offers support for hate crimes training and hate crimes.
But the activists groups are asking Congress to oppose the bill, arguing that it bolsters law enforcement rather than addresses the root causes of anti-Asian hate.
They say that resources would be better served addressing the source of the problem.
“We call on our communities to demand more in this moment to address root causes and create true systemic change that does not rely on law enforcement,” the groups wrote.
A study from California State University-San Bernardino released in April found that anti-Asian hate crimes spiked 169 percent between the first quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021.
Activists have blamed the rise in-part on the offensive language some used to discuss the pandemic, such as former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE’s use of the term “China virus.”