FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Elected Officials Join NaFFAA in Condemning Anti-Asian Discrimination Amidst COVID-19
Washington D.C. (May 12, 2020) - The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), issues the following statement on the rise of anti-Asian discrimination and violence stemming from the rise of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the United States:
Brendan Flores, NaFFAA President and National Chairman stated, “As a nation, we are all concerned about the coronavirus and its effects on the health of our neighbors, families, and friends in the U.S. and across the world. As an organization representing over 4 million proud Filipino Americans, we cannot stand silently as discrimination persists against our community and other Asian American communities across the nation. To promote unwarranted fear and spread dangerous mistruths is antithetical to the spirit of this nation. There is much more that unites us than divides us, since this virus knows no race, age, or class.”
The U.S. Department of Justice stated, “The Justice Department is committed to prosecuting hate crimes and violations of anti-discrimination laws against Asian Americans and Asians to the fullest extent of the law.” Attorney General William Barr and Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Eric Dreiband have instructed department prosecutors that they are to have zero tolerance of anti-AAPI hate crimes during this pandemic.
Congressman T.J. Cox (CA-21) said, "As the first Filipino American from California to represent the Central Valley, I am proud to stand against anti-Asian hate crimes egged on by incorrectly labeling the deadly COVID-19 virus with a national identity. During this time of fear surrounding COVID-19, everyone should feel protected and supported by their fellow Americans no matter their race, ethnicity, or language background.
Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03) reminded everyone that a great number of people risking their lives on the front lines whether in hospitals as health care professionals, as first responders, or in grocery stores, many of them are Asian Americans.
We know that COVID-19 does not discriminate based on income-level, age, or race. People all over the country are concerned about the coronavirus and the effects it could have on their family members and the world economy. Sadly, we have also seen a rise in the number of discriminatory attacks on Asian Americans the last few weeks. Unfairly targeting entire segments of the population does nothing to solve this crisis. Many of our critical workers on the front lines of fighting the virus are Asian Americans, and they put themselves at risk every day to protect our communities. Now is the time for all Americans to unite and stand firm against bigotry and fear,” said Congressman Scott.
From the earliest days of the coronavirus crisis, Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27) sounded the alarm on the way the disease has been used to fuel xenophobia.
"I reached out to all of my colleagues in the House and Senate back in February urging them to listen to the advice from experts at the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who warned against associating a disease with a specific region or ethnicity. The best thing we can do in a public health crisis is listen to the experts, stick to facts, and not take advantage of people’s fears and anxieties by directing anger at a particular group. I’m grateful to all who have spoken out to condemn anti-Asian xenophobia during this crisis. Viruses do not discriminate, and we must work together to ensure that all Americans remain safe during these difficult times,” explained Congresswoman Chu.
In March, the Chairs of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus together condemned the racism that the Asian American community has been experiencing during this pandemic.
Violent attacks, threats, hate crimes, vandalism, job discrimination, and hate speech on social media must be stopped before it is normalized. Racism against Asian Americans will only worsen as the death toll from the coronavirus continues to increase, and it is making people fear for their lives. Not only are people fearful of contracting COVID-19, but many in the Asian American community have anxiety of leaving their homes in fear of becoming targets of hate crimes. This can lead to increased psychological distress.
Any individual who has been a victim of a hate crime or has witnessed a hate crime should report these incidents to their local police department first. In addition to local police, hate crimes should be reported to one’s local FBI field office and state attorney general's office. A directory of all local FBI field offices and telephone numbers for filing complaints are accessible at https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices. Individuals can also register tips and complaints at https://www.fbi.gov/tips. The Department of Justice is working to have language capacity to receive complaints in a variety of Asian languages.
Additionally, the Department of Justice Community Relations Service (CRS) provides facilitation, mediation, training, and consultation services to community groups working to reduce community tensions and conflicts. They support community efforts to prevent and respond to hate crimes and bias incidents, including COVID-related incidents perpetrated against the AAPI community.
CRS staff across the U.S. are all currently teleworking and available for consultation about hate crimes prevention and community responses. To reach your local CRS conciliator, send an email to askCRS@usdoj.gov or call 202-305-2935. In addition, you can read about CRS’s services and programs on their website at www.justice.gov/crs.
Several groups are using online reporting tools as a way to gather data. Such online reporting tools include, StandAgainstHatred.org, and OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates’ Hate Incident Reporting Site allow victims to self-report hate crimes, verbal harassment, or physical assault against Asian Americans. Stop AAPI Hate, is an online reporting forum created by California-based advocacy organizations that collates reports of hate incidents in seven languages. In the nearly three weeks since its launch, the website had received more than 1,100 reports, escalating to a rate of about 100 per day.
Organizers say the rate of reporting is likely a severe undercount of the actual incidents taking place every day across the country as individuals do not have a great deal of confidence that justice will be served.
The Asian American community is fighting two diseases here, COVID-19 and bigotry. “We as a nation must beat this with public education and send a clear message that hate crimes will not be tolerated. Let us try to rise above the uncertainty and embrace kindness,” stated NaFFAA President and National Chairman Brendan Flores.
The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization. Established in 1997, NaFFAA promotes the welfare and well-being of the four (4) million Filipinos and Filipino Americans throughout the United States. NaFFAA’s vision is to serve as the voice of all Filipinos and Filipino Americans by uniting, engaging, and empowering diverse individuals and community organizations through leadership development, civic engagement, and national advocacy.