I applaud President Biden for signing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law – an important, timely, and refreshingly bipartisan piece of legislation that will provide federal law enforcement agencies robust tools to push back against the alarming increase in senseless bias and violence that the Asian American/Pacific Islander community has endured throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, Senate Majority Leader Schumer – who spoke recently on the front steps of this Legislature about the importance of fighting this scourge – deserves our thanks for leading the Senate to a nearly unanimous vote in favor of the measure.
Here in Nassau County, we have an obligation and a responsibility to add to that toolkit so that members of our local AAPI communities can once again regain the sense of security they deserve.
Last month, I filed a proposed local law that would update the County’s Human Rights Law to specifically outlaw discrimination based on an actual or perceived relationship to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This bill would empower victims of discrimination and the county attorney to sue for compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees and other relief deemed appropriate by the court.
Individuals who violate the statute would furthermore face penalties of $5,000 to $25,000 per incident, which would be recoverable and payable to the aggrieved victim, as well as thousands of dollars in additional fines.
I urge my colleagues in the Majority to bring this measure to the floor of the Legislature so that it can be debated and adopted unanimously. By doing so, we would send a clear message that we will aggressively defend the rights of all Nassau County residents to live lives free of fear, hatred, and bigotry.
Arnold W. Drucker
Nassau County Legislator, LD 16