ACLU Statement on Senate Passage of COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act

April 22, 2021 11:30 am

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which included the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, in a bipartisan vote today. The bill, which is endorsed and will be scored by the American Civil Liberties Union, would enhance hate crime data collection and provide community-centered solutions to assist hate crimes victims and their communities.

The Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act is named after two individuals who were tragically killed exactly one year apart. Khalid Jabara was killed at the hands of someone with a long history of harassment and attacks against him and his family in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Heather Heyer was killed during the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Though both their deaths were prosecuted as hate crimes, neither was reported in the federal hate crimes statistics. Because the FBI compiles its hate crime data based on reports from local law enforcement — and this reporting is not mandatory — the FBI statistics are severely underreported.

Manar Waheed, senior legislative and advocacy counsel for the ACLU, said:

“Hate crimes in the United States are at the highest point in more than a decade — and that is without the inclusion of Khalid Jabara, Heather Heyer, and so many others who have suffered at the hands of hatred. The victims of these crimes and their loved ones deserve to be recognized and counted. Furthermore, we cannot address this growing problem if we do not even understand its scope and reach into our communities. Improvements to these systems can and must be made using existing funding, rather than appropriating new funds.

“The passage of this bill is a victory for communities and organizations that have long fought to better address attacks on marginalized communities, especially the Arab American Institute and Asian Americans Advancing Justice. At a moment when hate crimes — particularly against Asian Americans — are on the rise, this legislation is more important than ever. We applaud the Senate’s bipartisan vote and now urge the House to pass this bill so that we may better protect marginalized communities against white supremacist violence in the United States.”

The vote recommendation is online here.

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