DENVER — May 18 marks National AAPI Day Against Bullying + Hate Day. It's also now the day the House of Representatives passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to help combat crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Island (AAPI) community.
The coronavirus pandemic fueled a spike in hate crimes against Asian Americans, ranging from physical violence to business vandalism.
Deborah Yim is an attorney and a member of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association (APABA) of Colorado, a nonprofit, which represents the interests of the Asian Pacific American ("APA") community and attorneys. She says she's grappled with the brazen crimes against Asians across the nations making headlines.
“I was horrified, terrified and just saddened to see all of this; people being spat on, slashed, killed, burned, and it needs to stop,” Yim said.
Members of APABA took part in rallies and a town hall to shine a light on crimes again Asians in Colorado and discuss the Georgia spa shooting that left 8 people dead, 6 of Asian descent. Yim says they discussed solutions to combat crimes locally.
In 2020, AAPI received reports of 37 incidents in Colorado — almost one every month — ranging from verbal harassment to vandalism and shunning. Some people even wrote poor reviews for restaurants claiming they got coronavirus after eating at the restaurant.
In 2021, the Asian Pacific Development Center received hateful email messages from an anonymous sender, a community clinic received threatening phone calls and a man shopping at King Soopers in Denver claims another shopper threatened to punch him if he got too close.
The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act aims to protect the AAPI community against hate crimes. The bill passed by the House of Representatives will expedite federal reviews of COVID-19 related hate crimes, it will provide grants and expand support for local and state law enforcement agencies and issue guidance on racial language used to describe pandemic.
“They are seeing the pain and the devastation that we have gone through this year and that they want to bring about some real change here, so it’s really inspiring to see,” Yim said.
President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill into law.
Republican Congresswoman Lauren Bobert was the only representative in Colorado to vote against the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.
In Colorado, hate crimes can be reported to various agencies, making it difficult to grasp the scope of the problem, which already tends to be underreported.
APABA plans to introduce a bill in the coming months to centralize hate crime reports and accurately track reports filed.
Yim says it’s vital to speak up and file a report when an injustice has occurred to help create solutions.
If you are the victim of a hate crime or know an AAPI community member who has been a victim of an offense, you can click here to file a report.