Amid rising reports of discrimination against the Asian American community, Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan today launched a Discrimination Helpline to reinforce the state’s efforts to protect the civil rights of Minnesotans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Minnesotans are resilient people who support their neighbors when the going gets tough,” Gov. Walz said. “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 toll-free helpline, which is at 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 is staffed Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 4:30 pm.
“There’s a distinct pattern in our nation’s history of increased discrimination during uncertain and trying times, of needing someone to blame,” said Lt. Governor Flanagan. “This is unacceptable and, as Minnesotans, we must work to break this cycle.”
“We’ve built a broad base of Asian Minnesotan organizations who agree that this is an important step,” said Bo Thao-Urabe, Executive and Network Director of the Coalition of Asian American Leaders. “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.”
“Minnesota has one of the strongest civil rights laws in the country,” said Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero. “Having this helpline will allow our Department to continue its work to investigate all incidents of discrimination under the Minnesota Human Rights Act while also giving us the information needed to conduct outreach and education and change policies to create a more welcoming and inclusive Minnesota.”
“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,” said Attorney General Keith Ellison. “My office and I will keep working with State agencies, justice-system partners, and community to make sure everyone is safe, feels safe, and feels safe to report.”
The Minnesota Human Rights Act protects the civil rights of all Minnesotans to ensure everyone can live free from discrimination. Minnesotans who experience or witness bias and discrimination because of their race, ethnicity, disability, or other protected status in their job, housing, or in a public place, should call the toll-free Discrimination Hotline.
Minnesotans can call the Discrimination Helpline at 1-833-454-0148 or complete and submit this online form. Translation/interpretation services are available.
If you have been the victim of a crime, including a hate crime, or fear for your safety, call 911 immediately.
Information provided by the Office of Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan.