Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Need To Take Action Against The Rising Tide Of Abuse And Violence Against Members Of The Asian American Community

March 23, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the surge in violent attacks against the Asian-American community and the Senate’s responsibility to bring legislation to the floor to address COVID-related hate crimes and counter the threat of domestic terrorism and violent white supremacy. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

The shooting in Colorado comes only a week after another tragedy in the communities outside Atlanta, Georgia where eight people were killed in a string of shootings, six of whom were women of Asian descent.

It’s important to place the Atlanta-area shootings in context. Over the past year, there has been a rising tide of violence against Asian Americans driven by fear, misinformation, and age-old prejudices against the Asian-American community: from shouted insults and racial slurs to outright assault.

A 61-year-old Filipino-American was slashed in the face by a box cutter on the New York subway.

An 84-year-old Thai-American in San Francisco was shoved so violently that it led to his death.

And now this attack in Georgia.

Every day, Asian-Americans walk down the streets looking over their shoulders wondering if they'll be insulted, assaulted, or even worse. Even worse.

The poison of racism has always existed in America, but over the past four years, it seems to have found new life. There is no question that the former president, Donald Trump, through word and deed, fanned the flames of racial bias in our country. It's not a coincidence that it's worse now than it's been before. Donald Trump fanned those flames, fanned those flames, often with glee.

With respect to the Asian American community specifically, the former president encouraged rhetoric that blamed the Chinese people for the coronavirus—an absolutely despicable notion that has led to all sorts of verbal and physical assaults on Asian-Americans. You can see him with his chin strutted out, when he called it, the virus—but he named it you-know-what, the China virus. So typical, and he did it with almost a joy.

Here in America, we all know that an attack against any one group is an attack against all of us. So it is up to all of us now to stand up and speak out in support of the Asian-American community in America.

Over the weekend, I joined several vigils to stand with Americans of all ages, races, and faiths to support the Asian-American community. There was a large turnout, and our Asian brothers and sisters were so relieved that so many of us from the elected community were there. We should all be doing that, and every part of the country.

And here on the floor of the Senate today, I will start the process to make two pieces of legislation available for action by the full Senate.

First: a bill led by my friend Senator Hirono of Hawaii, the same as a bill introduced by our New York Congress member, Grace Meng of Queens. This legislation by Senator Hirono will address COVID-related hate crimes against Asian-Americans head-on. It would assign a point-person at the Department of Justice to expedite the review of COVID-19-related hate crimes, provide support for state and local enforcement agencies to respond to hate crimes, and work on solutions to the problem of racially discriminatory language that’s been used to describe the pandemic.

And second: a bill led by my friend Senator Durbin to counter the threat of domestic terrorism and violent white supremacy. This is a bill that passed the House of Representatives last year on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis. As far as legislation goes, it’s as much of a no-brainer as it comes.

Every one of us—every one of us—has an obligation to speak out against these hate crimes. One of the best antidotes—there are many, but one of the best antidotes when hate occurs—is to answer it forcefully, strongly, and repeatedly so that no one thinks it’s acceptable, and those who perpetrate it are shunned. And then, if they have broken the law, punished.

Every one of us must do this. You must speak out. And here in the Senate, we have more than a responsibility than to just speak out, we must take action. And I hope we will have universal support for these pieces of legislation that I mentioned.