After a series of violent crimes against Asians and Asian Americans, activists and experts warn that the racist rhetoric that has been spread about the coronavirus pandemic may be behind the rise in hate crimes against these groups.
According to USA Today, just this week, police in Oakland, California, announced that they arrested a suspect connected with a violent attack on a 91-year-old man who was walking in Chinatown.
In the span of less than a week, California residents have been horrified by the death of a Thai man in San Francisco and the assault and robbery of a Vietnamese woman in San Jose. In New York City, a Filipino man was attacked with a box cutter on the subway.
While law enforcement officials say it’s unclear whether the crimes were solely motivated by racial bias, advocates call for more to be done to address violence against Asian Americans as racist crimes against this particular community are historically underreported for a myriad of reasons.
Experts claim violence against Asian Americans spiked in March of 2020 as COVID-19 began spreading across the country, and political leaders like Donald Trump blamed China for the Coronavirus.
“When President Trump began and insisted on using the term ‘China virus,’ we saw that hate speech really led to hate violence,” Russell Jeung, chair of the Asian American studies department at San Francisco State University, said. “That sort of political rhetoric and that sort of anti-Asian climate has continued to this day.”
Jeung also created a tool that tracks hate incidents against Asian American Pacific Islander communities called the “Stop AAPI Hate” tracker.
The website includes a self-reporting tool to help keep track of harassment, discrimination, and violent attacks. Jeung said the site recorded 2,808 incidents of discrimination against Asians across the U.S. from its inception on March 19 to Dec. 31, 2020.
“What makes it worse is we see our elderly and youth also targeted,” he said. “It seems like people are attacking vulnerable populations,” Jeung said.
⚠️ WARNING: this video is hard to watch. Another shocking attack in Oakland’s Chinatown. 8th and Harrison Streets. Outside the Asian Resource Center.— Dion Lim (@DionLimTV) February 4, 2021
20+ robbery/assault incidents in the neighborhood according to the Chinatown Chamber president. https://t.co/9bo9PzuqiL pic.twitter.com/8h6dkNA1TG