His role as president of the association follows months of fighting the Trump administration over injustices such as separating immigrant children from their families. Because Racine has been open about his criticism against Trump, he has been subject to racist and hateful messages, including threats from Trump supporters.
But Racine isn’t the only one—other minority-identifying attorneys general including Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, a Chinese American; New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, the first Sikh attorney general; Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, the first openly LGBTQ person elected statewide; and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, the son of a Mexican immigrant, have received similar threats. This diverse group of attorneys general has also been victim to name-calling and derogatory slurs including Tong being called “Kim Jong Tong” and Grewal being called “turban man.”
According to BBC News, hate crimes in the country have been increasing almost every year since 2014. The Civil Rights Act of 1968 defines hate crimes as crimes with a bias motivation and committed based on one’s identity, which may include race, color, religion, and sexual orientation. The number of hate crimes against all minority groups increased significantly since the election of Former President Donald Trump and data indicates this number is only increasing further.
The alarming rate of increasing hate crimes across the country has prompted Racine to urge all attorneys general to use their influence to draw attention to this violence and advocate for changes in both local and national legislation. “Chief law enforcement officers of every state have to reckon with (this) and help provide solutions. It’s a big ass problem. We need to put a big ass light on it.”
Despite the rise of hate crimes nationwide, individuals believe that local law enforcement officials have barely taken steps to address them. As a result of a lack of effective hate crime reporting nationwide, many crimes go underreported or unaccounted for. According to a statement issued to Axios from Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, 88% of law enforcement agencies nationwide have reported no hate crimes or ignored requests to submit data. Advocates are calling to see policy to improve hate crime reporting.
The attorneys general leading the fight to end hate crime have expressed concern in regards to the rise of crimes since the beginning of the Trump administration and for the capacity to which it has spread. ”Over the last four years, we’ve seen an unprecedented rise and incidents of bias and hate, including graffiti, and ranging from school bullying to the deadliest terror attack in our state’s history,” Grewal said.
Tong reiterated these concerns amid an increase of hate crimes against Asian Americans, especially during the pandemic. While these crimes have increased with influential leaders using xenophobic language like the “Chinese virus,” crimes against Asian Americans have been seen throughout America’s history, yet legislation to stop such crimes from existing is nonexistent. “All of us have experienced hate personally, and as an Asian American, the targets been on my back for a long time,” Tong said.
The increase in hate crimes follows an increase in the formation of white nationalist hate groups by 55% between 2017 and 2019, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Many members of these organizations were participants in the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, during which they not only waved Confederate flags but wore anti-Semitic apparel, Daily Kos reported.
According to Axios, while some attorneys general have the authority to issue directives to state law enforcement agencies, some can only advocate for change. The goal is to streamline the process and create better relationships with law enforcement officials to address this issue.
Hate against any group, individual or identity should not be tolerated. America must do better to not only better report these incidents but prevent them from occurring.
If you are placed in physical danger because of your ethnicity, religion, race, or identity, call the police (dial 911 in the U.S.), or click here to contact your local FBI office. It is the FBI’s job to investigate hate-motivated crimes and threats of violence. You can also report a hate crime to the FBI online using this form.