U.S. President Joe Biden announced a number of federal actions Tuesday aimed at counteracting violence against Asian Americans as New York and other cities across the country are seeing a spike in hate-filled attacks against people of Asian descent.
"Across our nation, an outpouring of grief and outrage continues at the horrific violence and xenophobia perpetrated against Asian American communities, especially Asian-American women and girls," the White House said in a statement.
Under Biden's initiative, the Justice Department will track reports of anti-Asian hate crimes and expand its outreach to community organizations. Also, the FBI is planning to hold training sessions for state and local law enforcement, and other federal agencies are being directed to take additional steps.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will spend $49.5 million on programs to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities. The National Science Foundation will spend $33 million to study bias and xenophobia.
HHS will also establish a task force to devise policies ensuring the administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic seeks to mitigate anti-Asian xenophobia and bias, with a particular eye toward violence against women.
The White House will reinstate the so-called Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, with an initial focus on counteracting bias and violence, officials said. Biden will soon pick a director to lead the initiative full time.
Biden also is ordering the Justice Department to launch training programs to promote reporting of hate crimes against Asian Americans on a local and state police level. The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the FBI will partner with the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association to draw up policies for combating anti-Asian hatred.
Attorney General Merrick Garland separately announced Tuesday that he's ordering a 30-day expedited Justice Department review to ensure federal prosecutors make "the best and most effective use" of resources to combat hate against Asian Americans.
Tuesday's announcement from the White House also included a promise by the FBI to provide more transparency in its data reporting on anti-Asian hate crimes. Specifically, the bureau will launch a new interactive page on its Crime Data Explorer website spotlighting reports of such crimes.
The Biden administration efforts were announced one day after a 65-year-old Asian-American woman who was reportedly on her way to church was kicked to the sidewalk in Midtown Manhattan in broad daylight and stomped on several times by a man who police say made "anti-Asian statements", including, "You don't belong here.''
The woman was reportedly hospitalized with serious injuries. The assailant walked away, but his image was captured on surveillance cameras.
The same day, police said an Asian man was beaten unconscious during an attack in Brooklyn on a Manhattan-bound subway. The attack was recorded by another passenger, and the video shows the assailant repeatedly punching the victim and putting him in a chokehold until he was unconscious. The attacker then slammed the man's head against the subway seat before exiting the train car. Other riders watched the attack without intervening.
Police say the attack on the woman occurred at about 11:40 am on Monday on the sidewalk outside an apartment building on West 43rd Street. Surveillance video shows an unidentified man violently kick the woman as she falls to the ground and then he continues to stomp her several times.
In the video, another person can be seen standing in the building's lobby watching but doing nothing to stop the attack or help the woman. The bystander then closes the front door, while the woman remains on the ground as the attacker casually walks away.
The Brodsky Organization, the company that manages the apartment building, said that staff who witnessed the attack have been suspended. It also said that it is working to identify another bystander, a third-party delivery vendor, who witnessed the incident but did not intervene.