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MSBA statement on anti-Asian discrimination during COVID-19 pandemic

Contact:
Cheryl Dalby, CEO
cdalby@mnbars.org
(612) 333-1183

April 8, 2020: Today the Minnesota State Bar Association released the following statement regarding the rising incidence of discrimination against Asian Americans in Minnesota and around the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our bar association and our legal community—and for that matter, our system of justice and the promise of our great nation—stand for equality, respect, and the rule of law,” said MSBA President Tom Nelson. “Hatred, bigotry, and downright racist meanness should have no place or protection during these or any times.”

 MSBA STATEMENT ON ANTI-ASIAN DISCRIMINATION DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

The Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA) denounces the increase in racist attacks and xenophobic profiling against members of the Asian-American community in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid public fear and panic about the COVID-19 outbreak, there have been increasing reports across the country of attacks targeting Asian Americans, linked to racist assumptions about COVID-19. For example, a woman wearing a face mask in New York City was punched and called “diseased”; two Hmong men in Plymouth, Indiana were denied service at hotels due to the false assumption that they were Chinese and carrying COVID-19; and an Asian family in Texas was targeted during a knife attack while grocery shopping, and both the father and son were cut badly across their faces. Likewise, a growing number of racist incidents against Asian-American students, parents, and families are being reported in our communities here in Minnesota.

The fact that COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan, China has at times led to Asian Americans being stereotyped as infected with the virus, and this racist assumption hurts Asian American communities all over the country. These and other racist attacks harm Asian American communities and the larger community by stoking animus between groups when it is important to be as cooperative as possible. Furthermore, these violent incidents recall past attacks that have remained a permanent stain in U.S. history. We must denounce anti-Asian bias and racial intolerance and stop it from becoming normalized.

As part of this effort, the MSBA urges the media and community leaders to help stop the spread of xenophobia and misinformation by encouraging all community members to share only confirmed and verifiable information about COVID-19, how it spreads, and what actions we can take to ensure the best protection for everyone. In addition, the MSBA encourages providing information about all measures that impact Asian American communities in multiple languages so that those who are limited English proficient are able to access important information in a timely manner.

COVID-19 does not discriminate by race. The harm caused by COVID-19 will be greater if we allow it to divide us, and eradicating the virus will depend on our ability to work together. 

MSBA encourages anyone who encounters or witnesses attacks or harassment to report it to 911 immediately and request language assistance from law enforcement entities if needed. Reports can be made to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) at 651-539-1133, or info.MDHR@state.mn.us