Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Monday that his office has created a “discrimination helpline” amid “rising reports of discrimination from the Asian American community.”
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan claimed that America has a “distinct pattern” of “increased discrimination during uncertain and trying times, of needing someone to blame.”
“This is unacceptable and, as Minnesotans, we must work to break this cycle,” she added.
Walz said the helpline (1-833-454-0148) will allow “those who experience or witness bias and discrimination to report incidents to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.” The helpline will be staffed five days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“Minnesotans are resilient people who support their neighbors when the going gets tough. As Asian Americans in Minnesota report heightened cases of discrimination amid COVID-19, my message is clear: Viruses don’t discriminate, and neither do we,” the governor said in a statement.
When the going gets tough, Minnesotans support our neighbors. As Asian Americans report discrimination amid COVID-19, remember this: Viruses don't discriminate and neither should we. Law enforcement and our new helpline are here for support: 833-454-0148. pic.twitter.com/nDSU4S5hFb
— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) April 6, 2020
The state also has an online form residents can fill out if they have “experienced or witnessed an incident of discrimination.”
Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said the new helpline will allow the agency to “investigate all incidents of discrimination.”
“Minnesota has one of the strongest civil rights laws in the country,” she said, noting that the helpline will give “us the information needed to conduct outreach and education and change policies to create a more welcoming and inclusive Minnesota.”
Attorney General Keith Ellison said his office will continue working with state agencies and the justice system to “make sure everyone is safe, feels safe, and feels safe to report.”
“To use a pandemic that does not discriminate as an opportunity to discriminate is wrong. Now is the time for Minnesotans to turn toward each other, not against each other,” he continued.
Minnesota has also set up a hotline for reporting violations of the governor’s shelter-in-place order, which Republicans described as a “communist” practice that will “only spread fear and mistrust among neighbors and communities.”
Bo Thao-Urabe, executive and network director of the Coalition of Asian American Leaders, said his organization has “built a broad base of Asian Minnesotan organizations who agree that [the helpline] is an important step.”
“By collecting stories from victims and bystanders, and by working together with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights to understand that information, we are letting people know that what is happening to them is not okay, and we are serious about strengthening communities to ensure everyone’s safety,” he said.
– – –