Amid reports of a rising number of hate crimes against Asian-Americans, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday announced he is launching a 30-day “expedited review” into how the Justice Department can bolster its efforts to prosecute hate crimes and improve data collection of such incidents, reports Reuters. The incidence of hate crimes against Asian Americans rose by 149 percent in 2020 in 16 major cities compared with 2019, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. In his first memo to employees since taking over the department earlier this month, Garland said he wants to find ways to improve reporting of hate crimes, “prioritize criminal investigations and prosecutions,” and work with civil authorities to address cases of bias that may not rise to the statutory definition of a hate crime.
Garland’s decision comes as the Associated Press reports that the suspect wanted in an attack on an Asian-American woman near New York City’s Times Square has been arrested and charged with felony assault as a hate crime, attempted assault as a hate crime, assault and attempted assault. The arrest comes after the man was seen on video kicking and stomping the woman on Monday. In a statement, police identified him as Brandon Elliot, 38, and said the New York City man was living at a hotel that serves as a homeless shelter a few blocks from the scene of the attack. Elliot was convicted of stabbing his mother to death in the Bronx in 2002 when he was 19. He was released from prison in 2019 and is on lifetime parole.