Ted Lieu seeks to stop anti Asian racism

Coronavirus and Inequality

Published — July 21, 2020

More than a quarter of Congress calls for action to stem Asian hate

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., is one of the more than 150 members of Congress calling on the attorney general to condemn acts of anti-Asian bias stemming from the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)


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More than 150 members of Congress are calling on Attorney General William Barr to publicly condemn the wave of anti-Asian bias related to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The joint letter, sent July 20, cited a Center for Public Integrity/Ipsos poll that found 30 percent of Americans have witnessed someone blaming Asian people for the pandemic. 

“We respectfully request that you, as head of the Department of Justice, forcefully condemn anti-Asian bias to send an unambiguous message to all Americans that discrimination against this community is un-American and will not be tolerated,” the letter said. 

The members also urged Barr to provide regular updates regarding steps that the DOJ is taking to combat anti-Asian bias.

As of June 3, the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council reported 2,066 incidents of coronavirus-related discrimination. These and countless news reports have documented cases ranging from the denial of services at stores to verbal harassment and physical assaults. In March a Texas man stabbed three Asian Americans –– two of whom were children –– because he thought they were spreading COVID-19. 

Despite this backlash, Asian Americans have played an integral part in fighting the coronavirus pandemic. They comprise 7 percent of the U.S. population but 17.1 percent of practicing physicians, according to the Association of American Medical Doctors, not including additional medical professionals like EMTs and nurses. 

Another Public Integrity investigation was previously cited by 16 senators in a letter to the Justice Department’s civil rights division in May. The Public Integrity report found that the response to coronavirus bias was far less robust than the Bush administration’s handling of anti-Asian sentiment after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and during the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak in 2002. The senators gave the Justice Department until May 15 to respond. 

So far, the agency has not responded to a request to comment. 

Have you experienced COVID-19 related hate? Let us know by filling out our form or reaching out to Public Integrity’s audience engagement editor, Kristine Villanueva, at kvillanueva@publicintegrity.org

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