Washington, D.C. (Sept. 19, 2012) — The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights on Wednesday held a hearing on “Hate Crimes and the Threat of Domestic Extremism.”
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), submitted written testimony for the hearing and released the following statement:
“In the wake of 9/11, hysteria and violence targeted at Sikh, Muslim, Arab, and South Asian Americans spiked sharply, resulting in hundreds of hate crimes and cases of bullying, vandalism, and intimidation. The recent tragedy in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, was a heartbreaking example of these unrelenting and unprovoked attacks. Each new incident moves us further and further away from the values of religious freedom and acceptance on which our great nation was founded.
“That is why I am grateful to Senator Durbin and Senator Leahy for holding this timely hearing. I also commend the dedicated community leaders and activists who fought to call attention to these stories at the national level. Together, we must move forward with meaningful solutions to end this disturbing trend of scapegoating and intolerance.
“This year marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Vincent Chin. Vincent, a Chinese American, lived in Michigan when the U.S. auto-industry was in decline and anti-Japanese sentiments were high. On the night of his murder, two white autoworkers shouted at him, saying “It is you Japanese who are taking away our jobs.” They chased him down and bashed his head in with a baseball bat. Vincent’s murderers were only punished with a $3,000 fine and got off without even spending a day in jail.
“Thirty years later, another group of Asian Americans find themselves being targeted. On the morning of August 5th, 2012, a gunman opened fire at a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing six people and injuring a number of others. A morning that should have ended in calming prayers instead ended in gunshots and bloodshed.
“As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I am grateful that the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitutional, Civil Rights and Human Rights has organized this hearing on hate crimes. While these are only two examples of hate crimes which have been committed against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, hates crimes continue to be a significant issue for AAPIs and minority communities as a whole. In 2010, over 6,600 hate crimes were reported to the Department of Justice with 47.3% of hate crimes being racially motivated, 20% religiously motivated, 19.3% sexual-orientation motivated and 12.8% motivated by ethnicity/national origin.
As Members of Congress, we must be diligent in addressing the hate crimes that occur in this country. Congress should support full funding and implementation of laws aimed at addressing hate crimes, as well as promoting partnerships between federal and state law enforcement officials to effectively address this growing violence. This includes supporting the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Community Relations Service to prevent and respond to alleged offenses based on race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. Additionally, I have joined over 90 Members of the House of Representatives in asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to begin collecting data on anti-Sikh hate crimes, and I firmly believe that DOJ must expand its existing categories to collect more granular and meaningful data on the communities that are being targeted for hate crimes.
When I was in the California state legislature, I was Chair of the State Assembly’s Select Committee on Hate Crimes, where we held hearings on hate crimes across all communities. After hearing these horrific stories and listening to their heart-broken families, I knew that we must fight for the civil rights of all Americans and never allow anyone in America to become a second class citizen. As a nation and as a people, we are better than this, and I look forward to working with all those involved to effectively prevent and combat hate crimes.