On May 20, 2021 President Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law, addressing hate crimes during the pandemic with a specific focus on the rising violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. The legislation was designed to improve mechanisms for reporting hate crimes at the local and state level and make training available for law enforcement agencies to accurately identify and report hate crimes. The act came after increasing violence against AAPI communities, including the March 16, 2021 shootings at three spas in Atlanta, Georgia, which left 8 dead, including six Asian women. In October 2021, the DOJ announced that the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) would award $21 million to state and local agencies and community organizations to promote the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes and assist victims. 

CREW requests all DOJ records relating to the OJP’s award of grants to law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute hate crimes following the rise of anti-Asian violence. CREW also requests all communications between the DOJ and law enforcement agencies providing guidance on how to establish online reporting for hate crimes consistent with the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.

It is vital that the DOJ release these records to demonstrate transparency in fulfilling the promises of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. While Congress and the DOJ took a strong step in taking action against these rising hate crimes, it is imperative that they are held accountable and continue to increase resources and funding to address these systemic injustices.

FOIA Request

Header image by the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association under a Creative Commons license.

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