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Hirono and Meng Call on Attorney General Garland to Ensure Community-Based Organization Are Prioritized for New Grants to Combat Hate Crimes and Incidents

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to prioritize specific eligibility requirements for the newly created $5 million grant for Community-Based Approaches to Advancing Justice, that was established through the Fiscal Year 2022 spending bill. As community-based organizations have been critical in supporting victims and their families through the surge in hate crimes and incidents during the pandemic, this money will ensure that resources are flowing directly to the communities most impacted by such acts. 

“Passing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act was an important step in combating hate crimes and incidents,” said Senator Hirono. “But as we mourn the lives lost to hatred and extremist violence in Buffalo and Laguna Woods just days ago, it remains painfully clear that much more must be done. The federal government needs to use every tool at its disposal to stop these horrific crimes and protect communities from violence. As the Justice Department prepares to award this grant funding, it is critically important that they direct funds to groups with the cultural competency, community ties, and robust programming necessary to effectively combat hate crimes in our communities.”

“One-year after the signing of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, our communities continue to process and recover from the trauma of being scapegoated for the spread of COVID-19. That is why we are urging Attorney General Garland and the Department of Justice to prioritize grants to community organizations that are providing specific services for the communities who have been most impacted,” said Congresswoman Meng. “I have been in awe of the steps community organizations have taken to help the most vulnerable in our communities recover from and combat hate crimes and incidents. We must fight to ensure that our federal spending is flowing directly back into the community to provide care and support that is accessible.”   

The services highlighted in the lawmakers’ letter for priority consideration are: 

  • Providing in-language victim/family support services, which allows many different groups an increased ability to be successful in gaining access to legal, mental health and medical care services.  
  • Supporting data collection and reporting of anti-Asian bias incidents, which would help further promote organizations that actively help both law enforcement and those who wish to report hate crimes. 
  • Neighborhood safety programs, which would help organizations that provide de-escalation trainings, safety ambassador programs, mental health, first aid and self-defense training.  

Hirono and Meng introduced the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act in March of 2021, and President Biden signed it into law on May 20, 2021. 

A copy of the lawmakers letter to AG Garland is available here.