Three Attorneys General discuss rise of anti-Asian hate and violence

Updated: Mar. 19, 2021 at 1:01 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Three Attorneys General, including Virginia’s, took part in an online discussion Friday about the rise in anti-Asian hate and violence.

This comes following several deadly shootings in Atlanta, GA on Tuesday where eight people were killed, several of them were Asian women. However, authorities have not said whether these shootings were racially motivated.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring led the 30-minute virtual discussion with Connecticut Attorney General William Tong and Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine.

“This rise in violence and hate against Asian-Americans has coincided with the COVID pandemic over the last year,” Herring said. “It has to stop.”

Since March of 2020, Stop AAPI Hate has received nearly 3,800 reports of hate, abuse, and discrimination against Asian-Americans.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong putting some of the blame on former President Donald Trump’s comments during the pandemic.

“Calling it the ‘China-virus’ or the ‘Kung-Flu’, that put all of us directly in the cross-hairs and put a target on our backs,” Tong said.

Tong himself is no stranger to racist comments.

“People call me the Manchurian AG; somebody called me Kim Jong Tong,” he said.

By speaking about his experience, Tong and these attorneys general hope to make changes for the better, especially following the violence in Atlanta this week.

“In moments like this… it’s really important to support those groups and empower them in the workplace, the public and private institutions and give them the tools they need to give people support and safe spaces,” Tong said.

“There needs to be more education within the law enforcement community and community leaders to be able to identify when something is a hate crime,” Herring said.

However, Herring added there are other dimensions to addressing this issue.

“There are some difficulties in prosecuting hate crimes, because trying to prove the motivation can sometimes be very difficult and leads to under-reporting,” he said. “Unfortunately, all too often, these kinds of incidents go unreported. It is something that is way, way under-reported.”

Virginia State Police (VSP) tracks the number of bias-motivated hate crimes across the Commonwealth.

2020 preliminary data from VSP shows five reported incidents involving hate crimes against Asian-Americans.

University of Richmond Police Dept.01/25/2020Simple AssaultAnti-Asian
Fairfax County Police Dept.02/01/2020IntimidationAnti-Asian
Chesapeake Police Dept.04/01/2020Destruction/Damage/Vandalism of PropertyAnti-Asian
Fairfax County Police Dept.04/29/2020Simple AssaultAnti-Asian
Leesburg Police Dept.08/01/2020IntimidationAnti-Asian

Data from 2015-2019 shows the following number of bias-motivated hate crimes against Asian-Americans:

  • 2019 – Seven
  • 2018 – Three
  • 2017 – Three
  • 2016 – Three
  • 2015 – Two

However, the three attorneys general believe there are many more cases not being reported.

“Under-reporting is utilized by those who benefit from hate, who downplay the existence of it,” said Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine.

Racism of this nature has a long history in the United States. However, Tong believes many of those incidents are overlooked.

“People don’t know the history, the beating death of Vincent Chin in the ’80s,” he explained. “They don’t know about the Chinese-Exclusion Act, and you’d be surprised at how many people aren’t aware of the legacy and history of Japanese-internment and how we – in this country – blamed Japanese-Americans for Pearl Harbor and we put them, families, in camps.”

“There’s a tolerance for ignorance of basic facts,” Racine said. “Sometimes when we want to confront aspects of our history, that we shouldn’t make us proud, we blame the historian for not loving our country… our country is better when we learn from through and from our horrific mistakes.”

According to, a central resource re-launched by Herring earlier this week, it states hate crimes often fall into two categories:

  • Crimes against persons—This could include assault, battery, or actual threats of violence or harm.
  • Crimes against property—This includes vandalism, arson, or burning or displaying objects with an intent to intimidate

According to the website, “offensive speech, while inappropriate and unacceptable, does not constitute a hate crime, although actual threats of violence or harm are illegal and should be reported.”

To report a hate crime, you are urged to contact your local law enforcement agency or local Commonwealth’s Attorney.

According to, you are also encouraged to report the crimes to your local FBI office.

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