On Thursday, elected officials held a virtual roundtable with local Chinese-American leaders to discuss efforts to support small businesses and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the topics were xenophobia and discrimination.
U.S. Rep Max Rose, State Senator Andrew Gounardes, Assemblymember Peter Abbate, Jr., and Councilmember Justin Brannan attended the meeting.
Rose announced his support and co-sponsorship of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.
The legislation seeks to provide greater federal government oversight of COVID-19 hate crimes and require the Department of Justice to provide Congress with regular updates on the status of reported bias incidents. It was introduced by U.S. Rep. Grace Meng.
“What has been happening in the past few months in terms of skyrocketing hate crimes and xenophobia against the Chinese- and Asian-American community as a result of COVID is not only disgusting, it’s reprehensible and we must utilize every tool at the federal, state and city level to crack down on it,” said Rose. “As we talk about the economy, there’s no secret that restaurants owned by Asian-Americans were some of the first to shut down. They need our help and I’m continuing to fight to ensure they have the relief and help they need and deserve.”
During the crisis, there have been numerous reports of Asian-Americans being threatened, harassed or assaulted. The pandemic has also been blamed for a rise in incidents against the Jewish and LGBTQ communities.
Earlier this month, anti-Chinese flyers were posted in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights. One said, “Chinese are destroying Bay Ridge.”
Jade Jiang, an area resident, said locals suggested that she take the high road and ignore bigots.
“But I think it’s more important to have a conversation and learn through our differences,” she said. “More often than not, people learn that we actually have much more in common and find much common ground.”