Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, garnered the support of scores of members of the House of Representatives when he introduced a bill Oct. 5, to establish a commission that would investigate hate crimes. In making the case on the need for such a commission, the bill makes mention of the killing this Feb. 22, of Indian techie Srinivas Kuchibhotla in a Kansas bar, as well as several other instances and FBI reports. The bill, H.R. 3980, entitled “The Hate Crimes Commission Act of 2017, was referred to the House Judiciary Committee the same day.
Krishnamoorthi, and co-sponsor Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, introduced legislation to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate and report on hate crimes. They specifically want the commission to determine if there has been a rise in hate crimes and the causes of that increase and what steps could be taken to combat it.
The Indian-American lawmaker serves on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and on the Committee on Education and the Workforce. He is also the ranking member, and top Democrat, on the Subcommittee on Health Care, Benefits, and Administrative Rules.
Some 52 other lawmakers signed on to Krishnamoorthi’s bill which calls for a 12-member panel mandated to prepare a report in one year. Its members would be appointed by the House and Senate leadership of both parties with equal representation from the civil rights and law enforcement communities. Forty-five States and the District of Columbia have statutes criminalizing various types of bias-motivated violence or intimidation.
In the text as posted on the Congress bill tracking website, H.R. 3980 notes that the federal government has had hate crimes statutes since 1968, with the most recent law enacted in 2009; that the impact of underreporting on hate crimes statistics hinders hate crimes prevention; that according to multiple, nonpartisan studies, hate crimes have increased sharply over the past year, with over 900 new hate incidents reported since November 2016; that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found that in 2016, there was a 6.7-percent increase in reported hate crimes since the prior year, one of the largest one-year increases in over a decade; and that in May 2017, the FBI found that White supremacists and rightwing extremist groups were responsible for 49 deaths in 26 incidents between 2000 and 2016, the most of any domestic extremist group;
“In February 2017, a White supremacist entered a bar in Kansas and shot at two Indian men, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani while shouting racial epithets. Srinivas later died of his injuries,” the bill notes.
It also reference to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism’s study which documented 55 instances of anti-Semitism between January and March 2017 in New York City alone; as well as attacks on LGBT centers, as well as the White nationalist rally in Charlottesville. Virginia Aug. 11-13 which resulted in 1 death and 20 injuries.
“Over the course of this year, we’ve seen hate-motivated crimes strike numerous communities as people have been targeted based on race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity,” Krishnamoorthi is quoted saying in a press release from his office. “In the wake of this series of attacks, Congress must take action so that all Americans know their rights will be protected and that those who violate them will be brought to justice,” he added.
Krishnamoorthi represents the 8th District of Illinois, which includes Chicago’s west and northwest suburbs. Before being elected to Congress in 2016, he was president of small businesses in the Chicago area focused on the national security and renewable energy sectors. Prior to that he served as an Illinois Special Assistant Attorney General in the public corruption unit and as Illinois Deputy Treasurer. He and his wife Priya live in Schaumburg with their three children.