Assaults on Asian Americans spike amid coronavirus pandemic

Joanna Estrada
Февраля 27, 2021

Prosecutors are also investigating whether the attacks were racially motivated. American news organizations have reported a surge in anti-Asian slurs and violence in cities across the United States, particularly among older people. He ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to "consider issuing guidance describing best practices for advancing cultural competency, language access, and sensitivity" toward Asian Americans as part of its COVID-19 response. Physical assaults made up 8.7 percent of those incidents while 70.9 percent involved verbal harassment, the group said.

The Stop AAPI Hate site was launched almost a year ago by a coalition of advocacy groups as the COVID-19 pandemic and its suspected origins in Wuhan, China, led to a new surge in anti-Asian attacks and discrimination in the U.S.

"COVID-19 has had devastating and disparate impacts on many Asian American and Pacific Islander communities alongside other communities of color", said Karen Umemoto, holder of the Helen and Morgan Chu Endowed Director's Chair of the Asian American Studies Center. Alameda County-home to Oakland California's Chinatown- established "a special response unit focused on crimes against Asians, and particularly older Asians", according to CNN.

And there was a violent attack in San Francisco on 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee, a Thai American, who later died from his injuries.

Asian Americans have been reporting similar incidents since the virus began to spread through the United States previous year. A 64-year-old Vietnamese woman was robbed of her cash for Lunar New Year on February 5, according to KTVU FOX 2.

One of the high-profile examples of innocent Asian Americans being insulted during the COVID-19 pandemic involved a woman waiting in line at a bakery in NY, who was shoved into a metal newspaper box by a man, and a 91-year-old man being shoved to the ground in the Chinatown in Oakland, California.

These "horrific attacks on Asian Americans across the country" have "no place in our society", Deputy Attorney General John Carlin told a news briefing on domestic terrorism, adding that the Justice Department is "committed to putting a stop to it".

An Asian American family celebrating a birthday at a restaurant in Carmel, California, was berated with racist slurs by a Trump-supporting tech executive.

I believe that the rise in anti-Asian violence can be largely attributed to the fact that some people have attached an evil symbolic meaning to COVID-19 - that coronavirus is the "Asian Menace".

John Yang is the executive director of Asian American Advancing Justice
John Yang is the executive director of Asian American Advancing Justice

What's the situation in California?

"They just try to shrug it off and just say, 'Hey, this is just something I got to deal with, and I'm just going to move on, ' even though it's fairly traumatic", Ting said of many in the AAPI community. The virus has already claimed over 50,000 Californian lives. The latest numbers from Stop AAPI Hate show over 2,800 cases of self-reported anti-Asian hate crimes nationwide.

The funds will also go toward the Stop Asian American Pacific Islander Hate website, which was set up to gather incidents of and respond to racial discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders sparked by the coronavirus pandemic. Then-President Donald Trump inflamed the racist backlash by referring to COVID-19 as the "China virus".

"Because of hate, our Asian American community has been yelled at, spat on, shoved down and beat up, punched in the face, slashed and disfigured, and murdered", Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) said during a press conference at the south steps of the state Capitol on Monday.

President Joe Biden issued an executive order in January denouncing the incidents.

But, with Democrats now in control of both chambers of Congress, lawmakers and activists are calling for more attention and resources devoted to the issue.

On the ground, there are more local efforts to combat the hate too.

In Orange County, neighbours stepped in to help out an Asian American family after a group of teenagers repeatedly targeted them for months with little police intervention.

The family posted a security guard at the store which Shum acknowledges is unusual for such a shop but points to this kind of behavior against Asians as a primary reason.

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