Tri-Caucus, House Democratic Leaders, and White House Condemn Spike in Anti-Asian Hate Crimes, Call for Immediate Action

Feb 19, 2021

Washington, D.C. — Today, Members of the Congressional Tri-Caucus – composed of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) – held a press conference with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries to condemn the recent spike in anti-Asian hate crimes and violence in recent weeks, which is part of a continuing trend that has resulted in over 3,000 reported anti-Asian hate incidents in the past year. Members of Congress and White House Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice issued the following statements:

“Attacks on Asian Americans have become an almost daily tragedy in our country. My heart breaks for the thousands of Asian American families that have been terrorized by this xenophobic violence since the start of the pandemic. But I am also encouraged by the support from other communities of color, Congressional leadership, and the Biden Administration,” said Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair. “This terrible violence is the deliberate result of a party that put xenophobia and blame shifting ahead of the health and safety of fellow Americans, and that is why it means so much to have a new President and elected leaders at all levels of government who are willing to condemn attacks against the Asian American community and push back on racist slurs like ‘Kung flu’ and ‘China virus’ that have put lives in danger. Stopping the spread of xenophobia is just the start though. I am committed to working with the President Biden and his administration to improve hate crimes tracking and ensure state and local law enforcement agencies have the resources needed to work with the AAPI community and respond effectively. Each of us has a part to play in stopping the spread of racism, and I am so grateful for the multiethnic coalitions that have formed here in Congress and across the country to address this rise in anti-Asian hate. I’m proud of our unity, which is a daily reminder that we are stronger together as we work to undo the damage caused by years of division.”

“As House Speaker, it is an honor to join the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus, as we stand as one to shine a light on the surge of violent crimes targeting the AAPI community,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  “It is a profound and unacceptable injustice that the AAPI community faces not only the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis right now, but also the growing threat of bigoted attacks against their community.  This epidemic of violence is a challenge to the conscience of our country, which our Democratic Congress is committed to combating, confronting and ending.”

“Hate has no place in America, but rates of harassment, bullying and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have risen dramatically in the past year. President Biden condemns and denounces anti-Asian xenophobia,” said Ambassador Susan Rice, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. “During his first week in office, the President signed a Presidential Memorandum on combating anti-Asian xenophobia, which directed departments and agencies within the federal government to take steps to combat anti-Asian bias, and partner with AAPI communities to prevent hate crimes and harassment. The Biden Administration knows that combating xenophobia against AAPI communities is just a first step to ensuring full equality and economic opportunity for Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Native Hawaiians. As part of the Administration’s whole of government approach to advancing equity, we are focused on improving federal data disaggregation, removing language access barriers, and ensuring equal opportunities for AAPI communities.”

“The House Democratic Caucus stands with the Asian American community across the country,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “The anti-Asian hate crimes happening are a complete and total disgrace and we're going to make sure that those who are perpetrating this violence are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. All of us stand with the Asian American community until we can put this scourge to an end, which we will, because goodness in America always prevails. But it requires good people to stand up and unify and that's what we'll continue to do with our Asian American brothers and sisters.”

“I am calling on every single person to put an end to acts of anti-Asian hate. Call it out, prevent it, and report it,” said Rep. Grace Meng (NY-06), CAPAC First Vice Chair. “We need every person to step up – and stand against it. We are better than this – our diversity has always made us stronger. We cannot – and must not – ever lose sight of this. I want to thank Speaker Pelosi, CAPAC Chair Chu, House Democratic Caucus Chair Jeffries, and my other distinguished colleagues for speaking out against anti-Asian hate crimes. I am also grateful to the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses for their allyship and presence – this solidarity means a lot to me and the Asian American community. In addition, I commend the House for passing my resolution to denounce the rise in anti-Asian sentiment, and President Biden for signing a Presidential Memorandum to denounce and combat this racism; an executive action that includes several of my bills to prevent hate crimes against Asian Americans. We cannot and must not be idle. This terrorizing of Asian Americans, especially our elderly, must stop.”

“Today, is the Day of Remembrance. As we shed light on the rise in hate crimes against the AAPI community, we dedicate this day to the nearly 120,000 innocent people who were wrongfully interned by our government solely because of the color of their skin, the shape of their eyes, and their Japanese heritage. What the AAPI community is experiencing today compared to what Japanese Americans experienced almost 80 years ago may be different, but the root cause of it is the same: scapegoating and mass blame,” said Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41), CAPAC Second Vice Chair. “Hate and discrimination against the AAPI community has been a long-standing problem, but it has been made far worse by the pandemic and because powerful leaders, like Trump and Republicans who enabled him, spread fear, misinformation, and racist rhetoric to advance their political agenda and cover up their incompetency in response to this virus. I want to commend the Biden Administration for acknowledging the rise in anti-AAPI hate crimes and for pledging to address it. My CAPAC colleagues and I stand ready to work with him to protect vulnerable members of our community. It’s up to all of us to fight back against ignorance and bigotry and ensure that the AAPI community is not scapegoated or assigned mass blame.”

“My heart goes out to the families of Vicha Ratanapakdee, the 61-year old Filipino man whose face was slashed with a knife in New York City, and any family or individual who has been impacted by the sickening and disturbing violence we’re seeing against Asian Americans,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (CA-33), CAPAC Whip. “These racist acts of violence have been fueled by the hateful rhetoric of the previous administration, who in an attempt to scapegoat, wrongfully blamed an entire community for spreading the coronavirus. When the leaders of our country use terms such as ‘Kung-Flu’ – there are real world consequences. Asian American families are afraid to send their children to school and families are worried about their elderly parents or grandparents leaving their homes. This is not right. We will not stand for this senseless violence nor any form of discrimination or harassment against Asian Americans. I look forward to working with my colleagues in CAPAC and the rest of Congress to put an end to these racist attacks.”

“The divisiveness and xenophobic rhetoric of the last four years have polarized this country. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a racist misinformation campaign by the previous administration, which has unfairly stigmatized AAPI communities, putting individuals, businesses, and families at risk,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13). “I remain committed to condemning all acts of hate and violence, and will continue working with my colleagues in the Tri-Caucus to bring unity to our communities. It’s past time we turn the page from the previous administration’s hateful and xenophobic agenda and stand together for unity.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on our collective health and economic well-being has been nothing short of devastating. But it’s also resulted in racist backlashes against our AAPI residents,” said Rep. Jimmy Gomez (CA-34). “Last year in Los Angeles County, Stop AAPI Hate – one of the country’s top aggregators of COVID-19-related hate incidents against Asian Americans – reported 245 separate instances of harassment between March and October. This wave of violence and intimidation has left my AAPI constituents reeling with fear and alarm. But the true mark of a strong community – particularly one as culturally rich as my district in Los Angeles – is its willingness to support its neighbors, celebrate its diversity, and reject discrimination in all of its forms. And I’m proud to say California’s 34th Congressional District is doing just that by standing up for our APPI neighbors and standing shoulder to shoulder with them against hate.”

“It is incredibly tragic that, as we just celebrated the Lunar New Year, we are still seeing a surge in Anti-AAPI hate crimes and violence,” said Rep. Marilyn Strickland (WA-10). “Whenever there is a crisis in America, there is a history of wanting to blame someone, and in this case, it is the AAPI-community. Because of the honor and respect our culture has for elders, watching them become the victims of this violence is even more painful and horrifying. In addition to the physical violence, we must also condemn the verbal abuse we have seen. We need action now, and we want to see consequences so that this behavior does not continue. As a country, we are better than this. I am deeply grateful that the Tri-Caucus is standing together to address this issue. As we ensure that all of our communities are treated with dignity and respect, let’s also continue to stand up, speak out, and more importantly, urge our allies to do the same.”

“I join with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Judy Chu, and my colleagues in the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) to condemn the spike in anti-Asian hate crimes and violence over the past year.  As a member of CAPAC and a representative of a diverse congressional district with a large number of Asian Americans, I am deeply disturbed by these horrible crimes,” said Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-43). “It is no accident that anti-Asian hate crimes escalated during the presidency of Donald Trump. From the onset of the pandemic, Trump spewed racist vitriol, spread anti-Asian sentiment, and targeted the Asian community without pause. While Donald Trump is no longer the president, the effects of his anti-Asian rhetoric, scapegoating, and xenophobia continue to incite harassment, discrimination, and violence against the Asian American community. Last September, I was proud to be a cosponsor of Congresswoman Grace Meng’s resolution to condemn anti-Asian sentiment and voted in favor of it on the House floor. I will continue to support legislation and initiatives to condemn bigotry, racism, and xenophobia of all kinds and hold those responsible for hate crimes and racist violence accountable for their despicable actions.”

A recording of the press conference is available here.

Additional CAPAC Member statements condemning anti-Asian violence can be found here.