Attorney General Orders Investigation Into More “Hate Crimes”

( On Tuesday, new Attorney General Merrick Garland started a 30-day review that will assess the tracking capabilities and prosecution of hate crimes that are surging around the United States.

In a memo that Garland sent to all staffers at the Justice Department, he wrote:

“The recent rise in hate crimes and hate incidents, particularly the disturbing trend in reports of violence against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community since the start of the pandemic, requires renewed energy.”

Garland didn’t refer specifically to the mass shooting that happened recently in Georgia, where a suspect shot eight people — six of whom died — who were Asian. He did say, though, that he vows to “seek justice for the victims of the hate-fueled mass murders that we have seen too many times in the past several years.”

These killings have “shaken our communities, torn at our social fabric and undercut our most basic values.”

The DOJ review will examine the capacity of the federal government to identify and track hate incidents. It will also weigh whether to use a civil enforcement authority to respond to some incidents of bias that don’t rise to hate crimes. It will also assess whether more funding would be needed to support the response from law enforcement.

As Garland wrote:

“We must re-commit ourselves to this urgent task and ensure that the department makes the best and most effective use of its resources to combat hate.”

A group called AAPI Hate that publishes a self-reporting tool for discrimination, harassment and violent attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Between March 19 of 2020 and February 28 of this year, there were 3,795 recorded incidents of anti-Asian discrimination that happened across the country.

This information was released just before that mass shooting that happened in Georgia, near Atlanta. There hasn’t been a clear motive in that case just yet, but investigators still haven’t ruled out that a hate crime could be the reason.

Since that attack happened, many lawmakers have been urging the DOJ to focus more attention on hate incidents that have targeted Asians.

Judy Chu, a Democratic Representative from California who is the chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said the shooting in Atlanta was “beyond terrifying, but it just brings home to so many Asian Americans that they are fearful of their lives and circumstances.”

There have been other incidents of violence against Asians, which seemed to pick up at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week, the New York Police Department was seeking the public’s help to identify a suspect who attacked an Asian American woman as she was walking on a street in Midtown Manhattan. The vicious attack was on a 65-year-old.

That woman had to be hospitalized after she sustained serious injuries from being kicked, stomped on and punched in front of a 43rd Street apartment building.

It’s incidents like this that the DOJ and Garland are hoping to investigate further, and ensure that the DOJ has the ability to track and analyze these incidents further.