Senate approves bill aimed at combating hate crimes against Asian Americans

By JALEN WADE Capital News Service Washington Bureau


On a nearly unanimous vote, the Senate Thursday passed legislation aimed at speeding federal investigations of hate crimes against Asian Americans related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Passing the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act sends a clear and unmistakable message of solidarity to the (Asian American-Pacific Islander) community,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, who introduced the bill last month. “This moment would not be possible without the collective efforts of so many people including my Republican colleagues.” 

The Senate vote to pass the hate crimes bill was 94-1, with Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley the lone opponent. The legislation now goes to the House for a final vote, which is likely next month, according to Rep. Grace Meng, D-New York, sponsor of an identical House bill. 

President Joe Biden supports the legislation.

“Today, the Senate said enough is enough, and underscored loud and clear that there is no place for hate anywhere in our society,” Meng said in a statement after the Senate vote. “More reporting of hate crimes will provide us with increased data and a more accurate picture of the attacks that have been occurring against those of Asian descent, and a more centralized and unified way of reviewing these crimes would help to address the problem in a more effective manner.”

In addition to speeding federal probes of hate crimes against Asian Americans, the measure directs the Department of Justice to provide state and local law enforcement agencies with guidelines for establishing hate crimes reporting systems in multiple languages. The Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services also would work with community groups to eliminate discriminatory language in materials related to the pandemic. 

Within the past few months, the country has seen a startling rise in the number of cases of violence against Asian Americans, including the March 16 shooting of six Asian American women in Atlanta. 

Research released by Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit group, revealed nearly 3,800 incidents were reported over the course of roughly a year during the pandemic.

Verbal harassment and shunning were the most common types of discrimination, making up 68.1 percent and 20.5 percent of the reports, respectively, the group found. The third category, physical assault, made up 11.1 percent of the total incidents. More than a third of incidents occurred at businesses, while a quarter took place in public streets.

Despite Congress, human rights groups, the press and social media taking notice of these hate crimes now, this is not a recent phenomenon, said author William Ming Liu.

Liu compared the situation to how the frequent video recording of police violence on Blacks caused people to think it’s a recent phenomenon. 

“People are much smarter and more willing to record these things, but in terms of overall violence and abuse, that’s always been there,” Liu said in an interview with Capital News Service.

Tiffany Chang, director of community engagement for Asians Advancing Justice, said an annual increase of 150 percent in hate crimes is an incredibly shocking number considering that the country has been in a pandemic. She said that many of the victims were likely people simply going out for supplies or were essential workers.

The anti-Asian rhetoric used by former President Donald Trump as the pandemic intensified was a key factor in encouraging hate crimes and discrimination against Asian Americans, Chang and other researchers said.

“There was a press conference with footage of him crossing out the word ‘coronavirus’ on his talking points and writing in ‘China virus,’ as if to deliberately stoke animosity against Asians and Asian Americans, Chinese Americans in particular,” Chang said.

This scapegoating gives people who are angry at the state of affairs created by the pandemic an outlet, she added. 

It doesn’t help that there are so few Asian Americans in the higher levels of government, said Jonathan Law, an organizer for Baltimore Asian American Resistance, which seeks to address systemic problems facing Asian-Americans.

According to Chang, Asian Americans have been trying to protect themselves by sticking closely together. Families have been telling their grandparents and parents not to go out alone or to ask someone to run their errands for them. 

Chang’s Asians Advancing Justice have been working with another activist group to provide free, online bystander intervention training to anyone who wishes to learn practical techniques to help someone being attacked or harassed in public. 

Chang said that of the 30,000 people trained, nearly 100 percent have said they were confident that they could do something if they saw harassment occurring.

Although Liu is glad to see so many Asian Americans come together on this, he said he wishes he saw more of a multicultural coalition against hate crimes and discrimination.

“There’s nothing worse for someone who believes in white supremacy to see a multi-racial coalition protecting themselves,” Liu said.

University System of Maryland to mandate Covid-19 vaccination for students, faculty and staff

University System of Maryland Chancellor Jay Perman issued a mandate Friday morning that would require students, faculty and staff of any USM institution to receive the Covid-19 vaccine before returning to campus in the fall.

Perman, who was a pediatrician prior to being appointed USM Chancellor last year, noted that for him it was a “risk/benefit analysis.”

“If we examine the data—and there is an extraordinary accumulation of data—we see that the risk of vaccines is very low, whereas the risk of COVID is very high. And that risk is increasingly falling on young people,” Perman said.

The move doesn’t come without some notice. In remarks to the USM Board earlier this month, Perman said “I do believe that mandating a Covid vaccine is a reasonable and necessary means of preventing spread of the disease and protecting community safety. I believe the unique nature of our campuses requires it.”

Data suggests that because of the recent prevalence of the “UK variant” of the virus, young people are becoming infected at a much more alarming rate. Perman believes the vaccine mandate will counteract that.

Perman also notes that there will be exceptions to the mandate, whether they be medical or religious.

“This mandate was not undertaken lightly. It was based on the recommendation of a USM workgroup I convened this semester—one that includes university-based experts in public health, infectious disease, and emergency management,” Perman said. “It was based on advice from the USM presidents—all 12 System presidents—and their cabinets.”

In addition to the vaccine mandate, other protocols will remain in place, such as Covid-19 testing, symptom monitoring, masking and physical distancing.

As of April 19, all adults in the United States are eligible to receive the vaccine.

More information about getting a Covid-19 vaccine in Maryland can be found here. You can also pre-register for vaccination at a mass vaccination site.

Tony Sheaffer is editor-in-chief for The Sting.

Weekly Roundup – 2 November 2020

Election Day is (almost) finally upon us. Though many have been voting over the past month or so, tomorrow marks the beginning of the end of an election cycle that has quite literally been the most ridiculous in a lifetime. Though we likely won’t know the results tomorrow night, we can take some solace in the fact that come Wednesday, Facebook and Instagram won’t be harping on us to vote anymore (at least for the next four years).

In the frenzy of midterm exams, we took a bit of a hiatus last week, so we’ll be “rounding up” the last two weeks in this column.

Onto the news –

Campus

Tatiana Huang tackles the dreaded “Zoom fatigue” phenomena in “Zooming Through the End of the World.” Huang writes about the gracious professors who have accepted the new reality of the pandemic, and those who think “that the world isn’t literally on fire.” Whether or not you’re feeling “Zoom fatigue” too, this one is a must read.

On last week’s Honeycomb Hideout, our advice columnist shared some thoughts on the stress of the quickly approaching holiday season. The holidays are usually a stressful time regardless of whether or not there’s a pandemic. With many facing financial hardships because of Covid-19, we provide some advice on how to deal with the season, even if you can’t afford gifts.

I wrote about Bruce Springsteen’s new record Letter to You in last week’s Friday Groove column. The album, Springsteen’s 20th, was probably my favorite album he’s done in nearly 30 years. Springsteen also released a film on the Apple TV+ streaming service to coincide with the LP.

On Sunday, UB Police Officer William Evans passed away at age 45. Evans was playing basketball while off duty when he suffered a fatal heart attack. UB President Kurt Schmoke informed the UB community via email on Monday.

Tony Sheaffer is managing editor for The Sting.

Weekly Roundup: 12 October 2020

Photo: Esquire

For many, week 7 of the 15-week semester means midterms. As if midterms weren’t enough, the cacophony that is 2020 only adds to our agitation.

Last week was a little lighter on news from our end, but it certainly wasn’t around the nation.

Here’s what happened this week –

From The Sting

Sierra Ferrare writes about the SGA’s recent resolutions to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Juneteenth on the academic calendar. SGA members say that the resolutions help recognize a more accurate version of history. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is being celebrated today in place of Christopher Columbus Day in many cities around the country as well.

Honeycomb Hideout gave advice this week on what to do when you find yourself unable to grieve after the loss of someone you weren’t really close with. HH recommends that in this situation, while you may be unable to grieve for the lost loved one, you can still be there for others who are grieving.

On Wednesday, The Sting editor-in-chief Leonard Robinson will be participating in a panel titled, “College Newsrooms Serving Local Communities,” which will feature student journalists and recent graduates from Auburn University, Boston University, and University of California at Berkeley. If you’re interested in hearing from Leonard and the other panelists, feel free to join in.

National

President Donald Trump was released from the hospital last week after being admitted the week prior with Covid-19 symptoms. When Trump returned to the White House, he took to Twitter again to downplay the severity of the virus. To add to the ridiculousness, Trump removed his mask when he walked back into the White House with people around. Later in the week, Trump proclaimed he was “immune” from the virus.

On October 7, Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris met for the one and only vice-presidential debate of the 2020 general election. Like most Americans, I think the only thing I can remember from the debate was the fly that was on Mike Pence’s head for over two minutes.

It’s worth noting that over the years, artists would include flies in portraits to signify corruption or neglect of duties. The practice began in the renaissance when artists would paint flies on corrupt church officials. Just a fun fact.

Tony Sheaffer is managing editor for The Sting.

SGA passes resolutions observing Juneteenth and Indigenous People’s Day

 

The 2020-2021 calendar for the University of Baltimore has a new addition. June 19, known as Juneteenth, observes  the day Union Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to announce the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War, bringing an end to slavery in the Confederacy. 

 The Student Government Association  passed a resolution bringing awareness to the holiday and requesting observance at the university.

The first resolution, entitled “In support of declaring ‘Juneteenth’ (June 19th) an official holiday for Students, University employees and Maryland State Employees” calls for observance of Juneteenth at the university, passed unanimously this summer coming on the heels of Republican Governor Larry Hogan’s proclamation recognizing the holiday as a chance to “commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and celebrate the triumph of the human spirit over the cruelty of slavery.” 

Juneteenth is not yet a federal holiday, but support among lawmakers and the general public is growing amidst ongoing dialogue about race and its impacts on the legacy of the United States. 

Ashlyn Woods, a former SGA senator who wrote the resolution, said, “I really hope these resolutions will help create more inclusive spaces for black and brown students on campus.” Though the University of Baltimore’s student population skews heavily towards Black and Brown students, the university’s faculty is predominately white.   

Observing Juneteenth would grant excusals to students and faculty from work and class, as is standard for most institutionally recognized holidays. 

The second resolution passed by SGA titled, “Asking the University of Baltimore to recognize ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’” requests that the university replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Doing so, says supporters, reduces glorification of colonialistic values promoted by Christopher Columbus. Columbus Day is officially recognized on October 12.  This resolution is a follow-up resolution to an earlier one passed three years prior requesting the same change. Both holidays, since The Sting began coverage, appear on the academic calendar.

The resolution argues that Indigenous People’s Day is “a more proper representation of historical events associated with the discovery of the Americas.” SGA President Dan Khoshkepazi says these resolutions are a testament to SGA senators, without whom “change would not be possible,” and more importantly, promote efforts to “embrace diversity and growing inclusion.”When asked for comment, President Kurt Schmoke, who is in support of the recognition of Indigenous People’s Day, said the resolution “offers an important corrective perspective to American history.”

Sierra Farrare is a staff writer for The Sting.

Weekly Roundup – October 5

Per the usual for 2020, this past week was not a slow week in terms of the news cycle. 

No matter how crazy the news cycle, I am always reminding our talented team of writers to take care of themselves and those around them that they love. What does that mean? Working to find balance, embracing the good moments, resting (as I write this at 12:30 in the morning, it’s a struggle that I have), and as my friend, Rabbi Dan Epstein, the chief rabbi of George Washington University Hillel said, “We all must learn that the world is no longer running on schedule and maybe it never did and we’re now just realizing that.” 

This doesn’t just apply to those who eagerly labor behind the “walls” of the newsroom of The Sting, but to our readers, who we think of throughout the entire process. 

Now, onto the news – 

Campus 

Staff writer Tatiana Huang dispels the myth that an earlier hiring freeze impacted student workers. “Federal Work Study funds were allocated for a variety of positions including those at the media lab, library, and campus store,” writes Huang. “However, one of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic has been decreased federal funding to the university, and consequently, fewer jobs.” 

Between the Merrick School of Business and the Liberal Arts and Policy Building, there is something new: a rainbow alley. A campaign promise of SGA President Daniel Khoshkepazi, the alley was completed late last week after a few failed attempts in the rain. More in-depth coverage from The Sting can be expected later this week. 

Lastly, I will be speaking at the Online News Association annual conference via Zoom on Wednesday, October 14. . The panel titled, “College Newsrooms Serving Local Communities”, will feature student journalists and recent graduates from Auburn University, Boston University, and University of California at Berkeley. The panel will focus on diversity, college newsrooms filling the gaps in community reporting, and insights into how to improve more student journalists staying as journalist post-college. It’s a very exciting discussion that can be viewed here. My thoughts after the panel will be published here at The Sting. 

Lifestyle 

Hoodie (or sweater, if you prefer) season has arrived, writes Jeff Dominguez in The Color Theory, his biweekly fashion column. “We are closing in on a pretty shitty year,” writes Dominguez. “So wear your sweatshirts and stay comfy in your favorite fits for the season.” 

Tony Sheaffer reviews Tickets to My Downfall in his weekly column, Friday Groove. “ I enjoyed most of the songs, but felt that most of the songs with a collaboration could’ve done without the collaboration part,” writes Sheaffer. “Halsey’s appearance on “forget me too” made me press skip, but I could live with other guest appearances.” 

Opinion 

Tony Sheaffer, The Sting managing editor, takes his beloved Baltimore Orioles to bat in “The Bums of Baltimore?”, a column published last week. 

Sheaffer argues that if he were to bestow the title of “dem bums”, which was once how a New York City cabbie described the Brooklyn Dodgers to a World Telegram writer, upon any team, it’s “Easily, the Baltimore Orioles.” 

Baltimore 

NPR published a compelling review of “Charm City Kings” highlighting bike culture in Baltimore. Angel Manuel Soto, the filmmaker, tells NPR that Baltimore bike culture is, “one of the most exhilarating and emotional spectacles of talent that I have ever seen, streetwise.”

Maryland’s coronavirus positivity rate has jumped back to 3%, as of Sunday. Community-based testing has also fallen, reports Jayne Miller of WBAL-TV.

The Baltimore Ravens beat the Washington Football Team on Sunday. 

National 

President Donald Trump along with First Lady Melania Trump was diagnosed with Covid-19 on Friday. Their diagnosis came after White House advisor Hope Hicks tested positive on Thursday. Numerous people within the orbit of the President have tested positive, such as Trump’s former counselor Kellyanne Conway, former New Jersey Governor and advisor Chris Christie (R ), Utah Senator Mike Lee, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, and North Carolina Senator Thom Thillis, all of whom are Republicans. Attorney General Bill Barr will self-quarantine for a few days out of precaution. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife have tested negative

It has been speculated that the Rose Garden announcement of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the replacement for the late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the major spreading event. Barrett has tested negative. 

President Trump is being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. 
Both former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife have tested negative after being exposed to President Trump last week for the debate in Cleveland.