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Warner & Kaine Applaud Passage of Bill to Counter Hate Crimes, Inclusion of Heather Heyer No Hate Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine applauded passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, legislation cosponsored by Warner and Kaine and designed to counter the recent trend of violence against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. The bill includes provisions of the Khalid Jabara-Heather Heyer NO HATE Act, cosponsored by Warner and Kaine last Congress to improve hate crimes reporting and expand assistance and resources for victims of hate crimes.

“Across the country, domestic extremists have used the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to unleash a wave of hatred and violence towards Asian Americans. Unfortunately, Virginians are painfully familiar with the toll of bigotry, which was in full display at the Unite the Right rally in 2017, where a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of peaceful protestors, killing Heather Heyer and injuring others,” said Warner. “The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act – which includes important provisions from the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act – will work to curtail these vicious crimes and ensure that victims have the support they need.”

“Senseless, vile, and un-American, the recent spike in hate crimes against Asian Americans must end,” said Kaine. “This legislation will send a message that bigotry has no place in our country and that violence will be prosecuted. I am pleased that the NO HATE Act was included in this legislation and believe combating racism is a fitting way to honor Heather Heyer.” 

The provisions included from the Khalid Jabara-Heather Heyer NO HATE Act will:

     · Improve Reporting of Hate Crimes: This legislation will support the implementation of and training for the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), the latest crime reporting standard, in law enforcement agencies without it. This will allow law enforcement agencies to record and report detailed information about crimes, including hate crimes, to the FBI. 

     · Encourage Law Enforcement Prevention, Training, and Education on Hate Crimes: This legislation will provide support to law enforcement agencies that establish a policy on identifying, investigating, and reporting hate crimes, train officers on how to identify hate crimes, develop a system for collecting hate crimes data, establish a hate crimes unit within the agency, and engage in community relations to address hate crimes in that jurisdiction.

     · Establish Hate Crime Hotlines: This legislation will provide grants for states to establish and operate hate crime hotlines, record information about hate crimes, to redirect victims and witnesses to law enforcement and local support services as needed.

     · Rehabilitate Perpetrators of Hate Crimes through Education and Community Service: This legislation will allow for judges to require individuals convicted under federal hate crime laws to undergo community service or education centered on the community targeted by the crime.

The Khalid Jabara-Heather Heyer NO HATE Act was partially named after Heather Heyer, a Virginian murdered by a white supremacist in Charlottesville in 2017. Earlier today, Senator Kaine spoke on the Senate floor in remembrance of Heather. The rest of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act directs the Department of Justice to accelerate the review of hate crimes by requiring the Attorney General to designate someone responsible for handling such crimes. According to a study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, hate crimes against Asian Americans rose nearly 150% in America’s largest cities last year. The bill would also mandate the issuance of guidance to state and local law enforcement on establishing a multi-lingual online system to report hate crimes.

The legislation now awaits action by the House of Representatives.