By Angelie Roche
Vol. 82 Issue 6 December 14th 2021
On Nov. 15, Maryland governor Larry Hogan announced a new plan to stop the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, the number of which has more than doubled since 2018. More specifically, his plan targets two main steps: updating hate and bias training for law enforcement agencies, and instating a special state police commander to act as a liaison in regards to hate crime cases. Governor Hogan’s plan also seeks to increase accountability in police offices, which means creating a process in which hate crimes are properly reported and dealt with.
According to the US department of justice, there were 40 hate crimes in Maryland in 2020, 27 of which were based upon race and ethnicity. One of the most violent anti-Asian attacks of 2020 occurred in Baltimore, where a man used a cinder block to attack two Korean women inside a liquor store. The suspect also attacked three Asian-owned businesses, supposedly because he “refused to wear a mask,” according to CBS Baltimore. When questioned on his motives, he said that “[Asian people] need to go back to their country.” The victims of the attack had to be hospitalized, and the suspect now faces up to life in prison on both attempted murder and hate crime charges.
The crime in Baltimore is just one of the many which have been perpetrated against Asian Americans since the start of the pandemic. Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that is currently documenting racially motivated attacks against this group, has documented over 9,000 anti-Asian incidents across the US since March of 2020. In May of this year, president Joe Biden signed the bipartisan COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which accelerated the Justice Department’s review of anti-Asian attacks and made federal grants available to those who have been affected. In addition, the act made reporting hate crimes more accessible by ensuring that reporting resources were translated into multiple languages.
However, civil rights agencies such as Stop AAPI Hate have said that, because these measures are law enforcement-centric, they ignore the real threat of hate incidents that cannot be classified as crimes. Additionally, they argue that more needs to be done to address the systemic racism against Asians and all people of color that is deeply rooted in the systems these laws target.
Governor Hogan’s measures are more community-based than those in the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, and in his plan is a list of specific steps the Maryland government will take to combat anti-Asian hate. Most notably, he is increasing Protecting Against Hate Crimes funding from $3 million to $5 million, and directing the Governor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs to “conduct aggressive outreach efforts” which will ensure that the funds reach all communities. Resources to report hate crimes in Maryland will be expanded, including the use of 211 Maryland and an online resource center. There will also be options to report hate crimes through other, non-law-enforcement networks such as nonprofit and religious organizations.
When putting the new motion in effect, Hogan stated, “Words are not enough, which is why today we are turning those words into real action.”