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Actor Daniel Dae Kim spoke out about the recent rise in anti-Asian violence at a Congressional hearing this week, urging lawmakers to pass stricter bills to help curb the recent spike in attacks.
Kim pushed for the passage of the No Hate Bill and the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act at a Thursday hearing held before the Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.
“I’m not naive enough to think that I’m going to convince all of you to stand up for us,” he said. “But I am speaking to those whom humanity still matters.”
The actor's comments come just two days after a 21-year-old white man killed 8 people in a series of shootings at massage parlors in Georgia. Six of the eight victims killed were of Asian descent, and seven were women. The demographic profile of the victims has prompted fears that it’s yet another hate crime against Asian-Americans.
A new study conducted by Stop AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Hate shows that Asian Americans were targeted in around 3,800 hate incidents in the past year alone. Just one year prior, the nonprofit recorded about 2,800 such incidents, meaning there's been a more than 25% increase over the past 12 months. Women were victimized the most in the past year, making up 68% of the most recent incidents.
Furthermore, Cherokee County Sheriff's Captain Jay Baker, who investigated the Georgia shootings, was heavily criticized for saying the suspect had a “really bad day.” Additionally, a Facebook post in which he shared images of a “Covid 19 IMPORTED VIRUS FROM CHY-NA,” T-shirt from last year resurfaced following his comments.
“You know when I have a bad day, I think about going home and having a beer and watching a movie with my family,” Kim said on Thursday. “I don’t think about going out and murdering eight people.”
The actor further criticized the sheriff’s captain.
“This is a person who has a direct connection to the shooter of eight people, and he is not impartial, so it calls into question the veracity of his position," he told lawmakers. "Words matter, from our president, from our leaders, from anyone with a platform.”
The rise in hate crimes comes after rhetoric over the past year playing up the coronavirus pandemic's link to China, where the outbreak was first observed on a large scale toward the end of 2019. While in office, former President Donald Trump repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as the "China Virus."
Kim said action from lawmakers right now is vital.
“There are several moments in the country’s history that chart its course indelibly for the future,” he said. “For Asian Americans, that moment is now. What happens right now and over the course of the coming months will send a message for generations to come as to whether we matter, whether the country we call home chooses to erase us, or include us, dismiss us, or respect us, invisible-ize us, or see us.”
The actor, also known for his role on “The Good Doctor” — which he also produces — chastised some lawmakers for voting against an anti-hate bill last year; he'd given testimony at Congress before the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act was rejected.
“I was disheartened to find that for a bill that required no money or resources, just a simple condemnation of acts of hate against people of Asian descent, 164 members of Congress, all Republican, voted against it,” he said. “And now, here I am again, because as every witness in this hearing has pointed out, the situation has gotten worse, much worse.”
The Act was introduced earlier this month and would designate a Department of Justice employee to help review COVID-19 hate crimes and would provide guidance for state and local law enforcement agencies to establish online reporting of hate crimes or incidents. The No Hate Bill was introduced in 2019 and aims to establish various grants within the Department of Justice for local government to improve how law enforcement handles and reports hate crimes.
In addition to Kim’s testimony, Asian American lawmakers, scholars, and advocates made their case to Congress on Thursday as to why stricter bills are needed.
Earlier this year, Kim and fellow actor Daniel Wu offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in an attack on a 91-year-old Asian American man in California.
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