Hate crimes around the country are on the rise and to combat the startling trends, state lawmakers are working to develop legislation that would help with prevention and offer assistance to victims.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General William Tong, State Treasurer Shawn Wooden, along with civil rights groups, hosted an emergency summit Monday to discuss experiences and offer advice on how to better address the incidents.
"Hate crimes are different. They are motivated by bias and prejudice and their purpose is to inflict fear," Blumenthal said. "We as Americans should not allow this to happen and we should be uniting to address these crimes."
In 2019 alone, Connecticut had more than 77 hate crimes. Forty-nine of them were classified with a racial bias, 22 were considered anti-Black, 10 anti-Hispanic, and two anti-Asian. In 2018, at least 94 hate crimes were reported in the state.
One of the solutions to combat those numbers in the state and around the country is with the National Opposition to Hate, Assault and Threats to Equality Act (NO HATE Act), according to state leaders.
"What this bill is doing in part is building the infrastructure to actually address from a policy-level hatred," Wooden said.
The group of leaders and organizers say the emergency summit also provided an opportunity to discuss what they call an "out-of-control" epidemic of hate crimes.
"Too often they go unnoticed and unacknowledged," Tong said. "Hate and discrimination and hate-related bias crimes are something we must acknowledge."
The potential federal legislation would offer assistance with tracking hate crimes and education which some believe is key to addressing the problem.
"We're not going to prosecute our way out of hatred," Blumenthal said. "It has to involve education, community values, and more resources for training."
Mike Keo is the founder of the #IAMNOTAVIRUS campaign, an organization created to bring awareness to hate crimes and harassment within the state and across the nation.
"We are hurt, frustrated and we need to do better," said Keo. "This has happened so many times because our voices as communities of color, as marginalized folks are not taught."
According to the FBI, hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans nationally spiked by nearly 150% between 2019 and 2020.