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Asian American Pacific Islander community ‘disappointed’ in GOP votes against hate crimes bill

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Asian American Pacific Islander community ‘disappointed’ in GOP votes against hate crimes bill

Baoky Vu 
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By Logan C. Ritchie, contributor

Atlanta, GA — Local leaders called to support the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community after taking a hit from Republicans last week.

On May 18, all eight Republicans from Georgia in the US House of Representatives voted against COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, despite strong bipartisan support. The act passed the House with a vote of 364-62, and was signed by President Joseph R. Biden on May 20.

Voting against the bill were Reps. Rick Allen, Earl “Buddy” Carter, Andrew Clyde, Drew Ferguson, Jody Hice, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Barry Loudermilk and Scott Austin. Attempts by Decaturish to reach three representatives were not answered.

Calls to Republican officials asking about their reasons for voting against the bill were not returned.

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) heavily criticized Republicans, saying the GOP doesn’t adhere to truth.

“It should be obvious to everyone by now that Trump Republicans live in an alternate universe untethered to facts or truth. They refuse to confront our nation’s gun problem, the rise of white supremacy, or the January Insurrection. The very fact that they don’t adhere to the truth is a sad and dangerous path for our nation,” said Johnson. “We must all rally around our Asian-American brothers and sisters and call hate for what it is. Otherwise, we will never heal.”

DeKalb Board of Elections Vice Chair Baoky Vu, a Republican, said whatever the reasons for opposing the bill, Republicans chose to stand on the wrong side of history and instead “sent a signal that maybe not all lives matter.”

According to AAPIdata.com, DeKalb County has an AAPI population of 41,820.

Vu said that after the Atlanta Spa Shooting on March 16, the AAPI community is shaken. Suspect Robert Aaron Long, 21, has been indicted for the murder of Suncha Kim, 69; Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; and Yong Ae Yue, 63; Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; Delaina Ashley Yaun Gonzalez, 33; and Paul Andre Michels, 54.

“The recent rise in hate crimes directed at members of the AAPI community are an assault on our shared American values. When our fellow citizens are viciously murdered or attacked because of their skin color, it is a hate crime,” said Vu.

While the legislation was not perfect, said Vu, bipartisan support came from the law’s goal to make reporting of hate crimes more accessible and gives local law enforcement tools needed to cut down on hate crimes.

Rep. Bee Nguyen (GA Dist. 89), candidate for Georgia Secretary of State, told Decaturish: “We’ve seen hate crimes against AAPIs increase over the last year, and many of these crimes are brutal and violent, including the mass shooting in Atlanta. Asian people in this country and state are living in fear. I’m disappointed that Georgian Republicans did not support the bi-partisan efforts to address a deadly and systemic issue — one that was further fueled by harmful rhetoric surrounding the COVID-19 virus. They had an opportunity to help mend and heal our communities, and they failed to do so.”

On May 27, legal advocacy group Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta is holding a panel with Litigation Director Phi Nguyen, Poy Winichakul from Southern Poverty Law Center and Vasu Abhiraman from ACLU to talk about SB 202, the anti-voting omnibus bill that was signed into law this year, and its impact on communities of color.

“Since the tragic shootings on march 16, Advancing Justice-Atlanta has stood with the families and loves ones of the victims. Our communities in Georgia and especially the victims’ families are still grieving. Our work ahead continues to center on healing, care and reimagining justice for our communities. The pursuit of justice varies across the victims’ families, our community members and even with our loved ones,” Advancing Justice said in a statement.

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