“We Are United And We Are Waking Up”

Actor Daniel Dae Kim spoke out about the rise in anti-Asian violence at a congressional hearing, where he urged lawmakers to pass bills aimed at curbing hate crimes but also called out Republicans who declined to vote for a resolution last year condemning anti-Asian sentiment.

“I was disheartened to find that for a bill that required no money or resources, just a simple condemnation of acts of hate against people of Asian descent, 164 members of Congress, all Republican voted against it,” he said at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing. “And now here I am again, because as every witness in this hearing has pointed out, the situation has gotten worse, much worse.”

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Kim went through the names of Asian-Americans who have been murdered or badly beaten, but he also commented on the shooting deaths of eight people at three spas in the Atlanta area. The victims included six women of Asian descent, triggering concern that the killings were racially motivated.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office told reporters that the suspect told authorities that his shooting rampage was not racially motivated. But Baker has also has been criticized for saying that the suspect, Robert Aaron Long, for saying that the day of his shooting spree was “a really bad day for him.”

At the hearing, Kim said, “You know when I have a bad day, I think about going home and having a beer and watching a movie with my family. I don’t think about going out and murdering eight people.”

Kim also commented on reports that Baker last year had allegedly posted a shirt with an anti-Asian message that made light of the coronavirus and said that it was “imported” from “Chy-na.”

“This is a person who has a direct connection to the shooter of eight people, and he is not impartial, so it calls into question the veracity of his position. … Words matter, from our president, from our leaders, from anyone with a platform.”

Baker did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At the hearing before the Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, Kim urged passage of the No Hate Bill and the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act. Last fall, he had spoken at a hearing on diversity.

“I’m not naive enough to think that I’m going to convince all of you to stand up for us,” Kim said. “But I am speaking to those whom humanity still matters.”

He added, “There are several moments in the country’s history that chart its course indelibly for the future. For Asian Americans, that moment is now. What happens right now and over the course of the coming months will send a message a message for generations to come as to whether we matter, whether the country we call home chooses to erase us, or include us, dismiss us, or respect us, invisible-ize us, or see us. Because you may consider us as statistically insignificant now, but one more fact that has no alternative is that we are the fastest growing racial demographic in the country. We are 23 million strong. We are united, and we are waking up.”

Earlier in the hearing, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) seemed to take issue with the focus of the hearing and pointed to victims of violence from drug cartels and during last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests.

“We believe in justice. There’s old sayings in Texas about find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree. You know, we take justice very seriously, and we ought to do that. Round up the bad guys.”

He added, “My concern about this hearing is that seems to want to venture into the policing of rhetoric in a free society, free speech, and away from the rule of law and taking out bad guys.”

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) blasted Roy’s remark. “Chip Roy glorified lynching at a hearing on violence against Asians,” he wrote on Twitter. “The largest mass lynching in US history was against Chinese immigrants.”

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