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Cloud on COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act: 'There are already laws in place'

Posted at 8:41 PM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-26 23:41:19-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — NBC News recently reported an Asian woman was attacked with a hammer in New York City earlier this month.

Two elderly Asian women also reportedly were attacked with cinder blocks in Baltimore.

An 84-year-old Asian woman also was stabbed, along with a 63-year-old woman in San Francisco.

President Joe Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law May 20 after the measure, which was introduced by Hawaiian Sen. Mazie Hirono, sailed through Congress with bipartisan support.

The act aims to stop hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by giving grants to local police, boosting awareness -- as well as outreach -- to hate-crime victims, and a new position at the Justice Department to expedite the review of hate-crime incidents related to incidents spurred by the novel coronavirus' Chinese origins.

One lawmaker who voted against it? Republican Congressman Michael Cloud, who represents Corpus Christi, Victoria, and the rest of Texas’ 27th district.

“There are already laws in place,” he said. “Everything that is supposed to protect us from that law is already illegal.”

Cloud isn’t the only lawmaker who voted against it. He’s joined by 61 other Republican lawmakers.

One group is now reporting more than 6,600 incidents from March 2020 to March 2021, with women being targets nearly 65 percent of the time.

"You should never judge a bill by its title,” Cloud said from his Corpus Christi office. “It's the whole idea of never judging a book by its cover, because the title is simply marketing.”

Cloud said he felt the language in the bill served to fit an agenda, which was the reason he voted against it.

“I am of the view that, I think that we have a due diligence to make sure that the dollars we spend, that the taxpayer dollars we spent, are actually accomplishing the objectives," he said. "Not just that the intent was right, but the actual objectives are being accomplished. “

Cloud also said the bill made its way through Congress too quickly.

His notion that it’s a marketing ploy isn’t sitting well with some Asian-Americans.

“Asian Americans are tired of living in fear,” said Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY).

More than 100 Asian and LGBTQ+ organizations also oppose the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, saying it doesn’t help other marginalized groups.

When asked what he would tell an Asian-American hate crime victim about why he didn’t put his signature on the bill, he didn't hesitate to answer.

"The rights we have to protect ourselves, to protect us, applies to all of us as individuals, regardless of creed or color or religion or any of those sort of things,” he said. "(The new law is) another effort right now to divide America.”

Congressman Michael Cloud talks with our Paul Mueller