Senate

Mazie Hirono: Asian American, Pacific Islander community 'feels under siege' amid rise in hate crimes

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) said Monday that the Asian American and Pacific Islander community feels as if it is "under siege" in the U.S. amid a rise in anti-Asian discrimination and violence.

Speaking on "The View," Hirono touted her bill to appoint a Justice Department official to review hate crimes related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which she said was necessary at a time "when the Asian American [and] Pacific Islander community feels under siege and vulnerable."

Hirono added during the interview that she has taken steps personally to put herself on guard against being physically attacked after numerous reports of violent attacks targeting Asian Americans around the country.

"I used to walk around ... with, listening to audio tapes, etc. with my earpods on. I don't do that anymore," she said.

Hirono's bill to push the Justice Department to review hate crimes stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic comes as Asian Americans have blamed rhetoric linking the virus to China and Asians in general for a rise in attacks targeting their communities. In several instances, suspects in such attacks have expressed language blaming Asian Americans for the pandemic.

President Biden's attorney general, Merrick Garland, ordered a Justice Department review of the government's response to hate crimes last month amid an uptick in hate-related incidents.

"The recent rise in hate crime and hate incidents, particularly the disturbing trend in reports of violence against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community since the start of the pandemic, requires renewed energy," he wrote in a memo in late March.

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