May 25, 2021
Christine H. Pham
Attorney, Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC
Charles R. Baesler, Jr.
Member, Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC
In March 2020, the FBI warned local law enforcement that an increase in hate crimes against Asian American / Pacific Islander individuals was expected because a portion of the US public may associate COVID-19 with China and Asian American populations. As predicted, in March 2020, Asian Americans reported accusations of “bringing” the virus from China and being told to “go back where you came from.” By July 2020, the PEW Research organization reported that 30% of Asian Americans and Asians in the U.S. had been the objects of racial slurs and jokes since the onset of COVID-19. Specifically, Asian Americans reported a substantial increase in open hostility in businesses, public transportation, grocery stores, and on public streets.
In the past year, researchers have detected an 800 percent rise in hate crimes against Asians in New York, a 200 percent rise in Cleveland and Philadelphia, and 146 percent increase in 16 major US cities. From March 2020 to March 2021, there were over 6,603 incidents reported to the organization Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition addressing anti-Asian issues. The coalition found that the number of reported hate incidents skyrocketed from 3,795 to 6,603 during March 2021. Although media coverage of the mass shooting of Asian Americans in Atlanta and widely viewed social media videos of physical attacks in New York, Chicago and elsewhere has brought national attention to the growing pattern of Anti-Asian hate, incidents continue to rise. In an effort to bring awareness to and curb the increasing violence, lawmakers and businesses have begun to take action.
The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act
At the beginning of 2021, President Biden issued a memorandum condemning and combating racism against AAPI persons. Throughout the last year, several Congressional leaders have proposed federal measures to devote more resources and attention to stemming the rise of attacks against individuals in the AAPI community. Importantly, on April 22, 2021, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which expedites the federal government’s response to the rise of hate crimes during the pandemic and provides support to state and local governments. The Act was passed by the House of Representatives on May 18, 2021, and was signed into law by President Biden on May 20, 2021.
The Act provides for the following:
- A dedicated official at the Department of Justice to review and prioritize hate crimes reported to federal, state and local law enforcement;
- Department of Justice issued guidance for state and local law enforcement and community-based organizations to promote and raise awareness about hate crime reporting and establish online reporting of hate crimes and incidents in multiple languages; and
- Collection of more data on hate crimes.
Some private businesses have also taken their own stand against Anti-Asian Hate
In addition to law makers, some leaders in the private sector have expressed support for the AAPI community. Several organizations nationwide have recognized the potential impact of anti-AAPI violence on their AAPI employees and published statements condemning AAPI violence. Many of these statements also provide resources that promote or support the AAPI community.
As a show of support to their AAPI employees, clients, and community, some organizations have issued internal or external statements condemning AAPI hate and committing to providing inclusive, harassment-free environments for their AAPI employees. These organizations have reported that by acknowledging the racial injustices surrounding the AAPI community, they hope to create a safe and supportive work environment for their AAPI employees and to promote the organizations’ commitment to oppose racism in all forms. It is also hoped that by educating the public about the prevalence of attacks and providing resources for reporting anti-AAPI hate crimes and harassment there will be increased awareness of (and therefore aid in preventing) the increase of attacks against the AAPI individuals.
The following resources provide important information to support the AAPI community:
- Asian Americans Documentary — PBS
- Asian American Stereotypes — Learning for Justice
- Asian American Stories in the Time of Coronavirus — Asian American Documentary Network
- Bystander Intervention Trainings — Asian Americans Advancing Justice
- Know What Your Asian Colleague is Experiencing — Fakequity
- Stand Against Hatred — Asian Americans Advancing Justice
- Stop AAPI Hate Action Steps — Stop AAPI Hate
Christine is an Associate in Stoll Keenon Ogden’s Evansville office. She’s active in the Business Litigation, Government Relations, and Right of Way/Eminent Domain practice groups. Before becoming part of these highly regarded teams at SKO, Christine worked with insurance defense litigation and personal injury concerns.
As a community advocate, Christine serves as a Big Sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwestern Indiana, and is a member of the Young Professionals Alliance for the Southwest Indiana Chamber.
Christine works with businesses and professionals from a variety of industries and has extensive knowledge in business and corporate law. With an emphasis on problem solving, Christine provides strategic advice on issues of various scope. With a keen dedication to the public sector, Christine is excited to contribute to this newer SKO practice group and consults with a range of government bodies on economic development projects. Along with her knowledge in Government Relations, Christine works with local governments and public utilities in the acquisition of easements, right of ways, and other real estate interests necessary for completion of critical infrastructure projects. She also engages in all aspects of litigation and appeals in eminent domain proceedings when necessary.
Charles Baesler is a Member in Stoll Keenon Ogden’s Lexington office and has been with the firm since 1994. He serves as Chair of the Immigration practice and represents clients before the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. consulates overseas, with the aim of obtaining employment authorization for engineers, scientists, professors, doctors, business managers and equine workers. He routinely advises employers on compliance with federal laws against hiring undocumented workers.
The firm has attorneys and staff who are fluent in Spanish, Vietnamese, French and Portuguese. We use the most current technology available to us and our knowledge of practices and procedures at the U.S. Consulates worldwide to serve our clients. SKO also has the capability and experience to represent companies and individuals on all continents, from the Middle East and Africa, to Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.
A member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and past chair of the Mid-South Chapter, Charles has been called on to testify before legislative committees on proposed laws and statutes. He has also offered his expertise on numerous media programs and is a member of the Mayor’s International Affairs Advisory Commission.
 See Escobar, supra note 4; see also Loffman, supra note 3.
 FACT SHEET: Anti-Asian Prejudice March 2021, Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, https://www.csusb.edu/sites/default/files/FACT%20SHEET-%20Anti-Asian%20Hate%202020%20rev%203.21.21.pdf.
 See Russell Jeung Ph.D., Aggie J Yellow Horse, Ph.D., Charlene Cayanan, Stop AAPI Hate National Report, Stop AAPI Hate (May 6, 2021), https://stopaapihate.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Stop-AAPI-Hate-Report-National-210506.pdf.
 President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, The White House (January 26, 2021), https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/26/memorandum-condemning-and-combating-racism-xenophobia-and-intolerance-against-asian-americans-and-pacific-islanders-in-the-united-states/.
 See Savannah Behrmann, COVID-19 hate crimes bill to fight Asian American discrimination passes Senate, USA TODAY (April 22, 2021), https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/04/22/covid-19-hate-crime-bill-protect-asian-americans-passes-senate/7290109002/.
 See Anti-Asian Hate, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, https://advancingjustice-aajc.org/anti-asian-hate.