LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — President Joe Biden signed a new bill into law Thursday, with the goal of combatting hate crimes against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was followed. I was spit on. I was called numerous slurs,” said UNLV student Ava Carino.
As the coronavirus started spreading to the United States last year, Carino says someone attacked her just because she is Asian.
“It made me feel anxious,” she shared.
Carino is Filipina American, and she says she never experienced that kind of racism and discrimination before in her life. But since that encounter last year, she has seen a wave of hate crimes against Asians all over the country.
“Another Asian American was attacked or killed in the streets, and hearing that from my grandparents, hearing it on the news, it’s like, when is this going to stop,” Carino said.
Biden’s COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act aims to speed up the review of hate crimes, make it easier to report them and expand public education campaigns.
“I think we’re going in the right direction,” Carino said, in response to the new measure.
Leaders in Las Vegas’ Asian community say they are now working to figure out what exactly the law will look like in practice.
“We have to have a good plan,” said Sonny Vinuya, president of the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce and a Commissioner for the AAPI Community Commission in Clark County. “We’ve talked about a hotline, for example. We’ve talked about counseling maybe; we’ve talked about education. So, all of those things factor in, but we have to come up with a good plan.”
Carino is cautiously optimistic.
“Even though this bill was signed into law, we still have a long way to go,” she said.
Carino adds that it will be important for communities here in Las Vegas and across the country to talk about the embedded racism that Asian Americans endure.