Pelosi, Asian Pacific Caucus, address surge in Asian-American hate crimes

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined the Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus on Friday to address the recent surge in Asian American hate crimes across the country, which have hit communities in the San Francisco Bay Area especially hard. 

Over Zoom, Pelosi called for greater mechanisms for reporting these crimes and documenting them as official hate crimes.

"What we need to do is for people to be sensitive at the time to take down the words," Pelosi said. "Because that's the difference between just bullying and harassment, and that would be horrible enough... we want to document the hate crimes."

U.S. Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) echoed that sentiment, adding that training the community, especially individuals with language barriers, on how to report a hate crime, is crucial for bringing these crimes to court.

Pelosi added that Islamophobia is one aspect of the surge in assaults on Asian American Pacific Islanders, and noted that white supremacy is the biggest domestic terrorist threat facing the United States.

She also commended local Bay Area efforts to support Asian Americans.

"I just want to say, as a San Francisco representative, how proud we are of our community, and the entire Bay Area," Pelosi said, applauding San Francisco Mayor London Breed for denouncing anti-Asian discrimination. 

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), also participating in the Zoom press conference, called attacks on Asian-American "unacceptable," and referenced the nearly 3,000 incidents against Asian Americans reported from March 19 to Dec. 31, according to Stop AAPI Hate

Many of those crimes have been happening recently in Oakland and San Francisco, including the death of an elderly Thai man and the brazen robberies of several people in Oakland's Chinatown. 

"What's worse, these numbers likely represent only a fraction of the actual number of crimes," Lee said. "Many crimes go unreported due to fear, due to language barriers, lack of resources, and differences in law enforcement strategies and investigations."