Federal law enforcement leaders address hate crimes and racism targeting the AAPI community
ATLANTA (STL.News) Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine and Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta are condemning bigotry, racism, and hatred against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and issuing a call for people to report potential discriminatory incidents immediately.
“We are deeply troubled by the acts of violence and harassment against our Asian American neighbors, family, and friends in this district,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “We will not tolerate discrimination or criminal acts against people based on their real or perceived race or ethnicity and will continue to examine all evidence related to the shooter’s motivation in order to determine whether these horrific murders violated federal hate crime laws. Federal law enforcement in this district is committed to the safety of the members of our AAPI community and we urge the public to report potential racial discrimination and hate crimes to law enforcement so we can address these illegal acts.”
“FBI Atlanta and The U.S. Attorney’s Office have reached out to Atlanta’s AAPI community, among other groups who have been targeted historically because of their race, to assure them they have an ally with law enforcement agencies and that individuals affected know their rights,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Investigating civil rights/hate crimes is among the FBI’s highest priorities. FBI Atlanta is dedicated to addressing every single allegation, and we strongly encourage anyone who believes their civil rights were violated to report it, so that we can determine whether a crime occurred.”
With respect to the tragic and horrific shooting of eight victims in Atlanta, the FBI, the USAO for the Northern District of Georgia, and the Civil Rights Division are fully supporting the state investigation into the tragic events of March 16th, while independently assessing whether the shootings involved a federal hate crime. Experienced civil rights prosecutors and agents are assessing all of the evidence and will continue to examine all evidence related to the shooter’s motivation.
We have increased our outreach to the AAPI community in the wake of last week’s tragic events. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI, along with other members of federal, state and local law enforcement, met with leaders of the AAPI community within 24 hours after the tragic shootings in the Atlanta area, and have this week, participated in a listening session in Doraville, Georgia with AAPI representatives. “Our outreach efforts will continue while reinforcing the message that we all stand together with the AAPI community to aggressively address incidents of anti-Asian bias in our district,” said Erskine.
There is a significant disparity between hate crimes that actually occur and those reported to law enforcement. It is critical to report hate crimes not only to show support for those directly impacted, but also to reinforce the message that our community will not tolerate these kinds of crimes. Reporting also enables law enforcement to fully understand the scope of the problem in a community and assign resources toward preventing and addressing crimes of bias and hate.
President Biden on January 26 issued the “Presidential Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.” The memorandum mandates that the Attorney General explore opportunities to support, consistent with applicable law, the efforts of state and local agencies, as well as AAPI communities and community-based organizations, to prevent discrimination, bullying, harassment, and hate crimes against AAPI individuals, and expand collection of data and public reporting regarding hate incidents against such individuals.
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division enforces federal anti-discrimination laws, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office has dedicated units that prosecute civil rights violations in its Criminal Division and enforce civil rights laws in its Civil Division. The Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office also investigates non-criminal instances of discrimination.