Media Contact; (804) 644-8080

April 27, 2020

The ACLU of Virginia joined NAKASEC Virginia to send a letter Attorney General Mark Herring urging public responses to the increasing incidents of harassment, discrimination and attacks on Asians in America amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In two weeks alone, there were over 1,100 reports of bias-based attacks on Asians in America.

In our letter, the ACLU of Virginia called on Herring to publicly denounce attacks against Asian communities – and the scapegoating of Chinese community members in particular – and state that Asian Americans are an integral part of our communities.

“COVID-19 is devastating communities all over the United States,” stated the letter. “Fear and anxiety are a constant, which is why it is so important that people don’t have to fear being targets of racist attacks on top of the pandemic. It is the duty of public officials to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, disability, income, or any other protected characteristic. As in past moments of national crisis, the leadership of our elected officials will shape not only the impact of the moment itself, but also the ongoing impacts of racism in our communities. The silence of our elected officials, or worse, their tacit support of those engaged in harassment and violence, contributes to this environment and emboldens these attacks. No one should be afraid to seek out their basic necessities, let alone be harassed or attacked.”

“No amount of fear justifies the prejudice, discrimination, and attacks against Asians that we are seeing today,” said Manar Waheed, senior legislative counsel at the ACLU. “Racist scapegoating has a long and ugly history that has impacted countless communities of color. It is critical that Asian people feel safe, especially in these extraordinary times, so we have to make sure local officials are making clear that any anti-Asian sentiment is un-American."

We are urging Herring to exert strong leadership against discrimination and in favor of ensuring that all Virginians can participate fully in the life of our Commonwealth without fear and with full language access to all public programs and benefits.

You can read our full letter below.