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Maryland governor forms working group to curb anti-Asian violence

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has established a working group that is charged with restraining the rise in anti-Asian violence and discrimination in the United States.

Hogan, a Republican, on Friday announced that the group will roll out strategies, recommendations and actions to address the the anti-Asian violence.

The formation of the body, which will be chaired by former US Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur, comes after a shooting in March killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent, in at Atlanta-area spas.

“This workgroup, one of the first of its kind in the country, will be composed of a wide ranging group of experts and advocates across various disciplines who will be tasked with developing recommendations, strategies, and additional actions that can be taken to address this rise in anti-Asian activity, to prevent acts of violence, and to support victims and witnesses,” Hogan said.

“Rob Hur is a strong advocate for justice and for the Asian American community. I want to thank him for all his many years of service to the State of Maryland and to the nation, and we very much appreciate his willingness to share his significant expertise, knowledge, and leadership by spearheading this important effort," he added.

Violent attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the US have seen an alarming surge in recent years, mainly attributed to former US president Donald Trump for employing racist language against them.

Last week, in yet another hate crime against Asian-Americans, an elderly woman was stabbed to death in Riverside, California, police said. 

It came less than a month after a gunman went on the shooting rampage in the Atlanta-area. Following the deadly incident, calls to address anti-Asian discrimination rose to a boiling point, with some people advocating for the attack to be labeled a hate crime.

 Crimes against Asian Americans rose by about 150 percent nationally in 2020 and had more than doubled since 2018, said Hogan.

Hur, who will supervise the selection of members of the workgroup in cooperation with the governor’s office, said, “As an Asian American, I’m grateful to Governor Hogan and the First Lady for focusing attention on the important issues of bias and violence against members of Asian American communities in our nation, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to be part of the solution.”

 “Conversations about subjects like race and racism can be extraordinarily awkward and difficult," he continued. "But awkward and difficult and honest conversations are the only way to solve big and painful problems in our society.”

According to a US-based political commentator, Trump's relentless xenophobic remarks about the Chinese is the “most important factor” in the rise of hate crimes against Asians and Asian-Americans in the country.

Rick Staggenborg, a political observer from the US state of Oregon, told Press TV this week that Trump’s references to the COVID19 as the “Chinese flu,” characterization of China as “the enemy” and blatant racist comments has made others feel that “expressing their own bigotry is acceptable”.

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