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March 31, 2021

Statement of ABA President Patricia Lee Refo Re: Bias and hate crimes against Asian Americans

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2021 – The American Bar Association does not tolerate racial discrimination or hate crimes and will continue its broad-based efforts to eradicate them. Unfortunately, we are seeing a spate of attacks against people of color in this country that have caused many to live in fear. In the past year, attacks on Asian Americans have spiked. An analysis by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, found that hate crimes targeting Asian Americans in the country’s 16 largest cities rose 150% in 2020, including more than 800% in New York City. A Pew Research Center survey found that 31% of Asian Americans reported experiencing racial slurs or racist jokes since the beginning of the pandemic.

Racist attacks on our fellow Americans must not be tolerated. The ABA commends Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Justice Department for Tuesday’s announcement of a 30-day internal review to bolster the tracking and prosecution of hate crimes and bias incidents with a focus on discrimination and violence aimed at Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic. People need the protection of the government and the law. But we all bear the responsibility and moral duty to stand up for our neighbors and ensure they are safe and respected.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.