Robert Hur, who stepped down as Maryland’s top federal prosecutor two months ago, will team with Gov. Larry Hogan to address anti-Asian discrimination that both said their family members have experienced.
Hur will chair a state work group that will develop strategies and recommendations to combat the rise of crimes against Asian Americans.
Hogan, joined at a Friday afternoon news conference by Hur and Yumi Hogan, Maryland’s first lady, said he hoped the group will produce “recommendations that we can act on right away that can make a difference.” Its members have not yet been named.
Hur and Hogan both said they have close family members who have experienced anti-Asian discrimination.
“I am now concerned for my parents’ safety and the safety of other members of my family on the basis of their physical appearance,” said Hur, who like Yumi Hogan is Korean American. “And that is a fear that no one should have to have.”
His parents immigrated to the United States, where he was born.
“I honestly never really thought I was going to have to be actively concerned for my parents’ safety in this country,” Hur said in an interview.
He said at the news conference that he believes a number of racist incidents go unreported in immigrant and minority communities.
“We want to learn more about that, we want to hear views and perspectives, and in the end, I know the governor is eager for us to develop a set of recommendations,” Hur said.
Hogan, a second-term Republican, has forcefully spoken out about racism against Asian Americans during the pandemic. Hogan said his wife and the couple’s adult children “have had to contend with some of this throughout their lives.”
“Our family — our three daughters — are very concerned. Our four grandkids,” the governor said. “We’d have a family Zoom with everybody where they were just pouring out, telling all the stories of all the things that have happened to them throughout their lives. Our kids are worried about their mom.”
Yumi Hogan said discrimination is faced by Korean Americans, Chinese Americans, Filipino Americans and others, and even those whose families have been in the United States for generations, the “same as all Americans.”
Anti-Asian hate crime in America’s largest cities increased 145% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
The first spike occurred in March and April of last year “amidst a rise in COVID cases and negative stereotyping of Asians relating to the pandemic,” the center said.
Hate crimes targeting Asian Americans in Maryland have more than doubled since 2018, the governor said.
Six women of Asian descent were gunned down in attacks tied to a single suspect last month in Atlanta. The killings stirred fear and anger among Asian American families.
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Women have reported such hate crimes disproportionately compared to men, according to Stop AAPIA Hate, an advocacy group. It said discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders takes various forms, including verbal harassment and workplace treatment, in addition to violence.
Hogan called Hur “a strong advocate for justice and for the Asian American community.”
Hur participated in a webinar last month by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association on the role government can play to combat attacks on Asian Americans.
He said Friday that discussions about “race and racism can be extraordinarily awkward and difficult, but awkward and difficult and honest conversations are the only way to solve big and painful problems in our society.”
Hur announced in February that he was stepping down as U.S. attorney after nearly three years. He was a 2017 appointee of Republican President Donald Trump. He fought violent crime in Baltimore and led criminal cases against former Democratic Mayor Catherine Pugh and two Democratic state delegates.
On Monday, Hur, a Montgomery County resident, joined the Washington office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where he will focus on crisis management and white-collar defense. He said he will make time to chair the work group without cutting back on his work with the firm.
Baltimore Sun reporters Bryn Stole and Pamela Wood contributed to this article.