Attacks against Asian Americans have risen sharply since the start of the pandemic, with the Stop AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islanders) Hate group recording around 2800 hate crimes between March and December and the NYPD reporting an almost 2000% increase. Activists believe that many crimes have not been reported, meaning that the actal statistics could be much higher.
Of the 2808 hate crimes recorded by Stop AAPI Hate, 70.9% involved verbal harassment, 21.4% involved shunning or avoidance, 8.7% were physical assaults, and 6.4% were coughing/spitting.
California congresswoman Judy Chu has said that the Asian American community has reached a ‘crisis-point’, and that community members are ‘terrified by the alarming surge in anti-Asian American bigotry’.
Many people have been quick to blame Former President Donald Trump and his administration for calling COVID-19 the ‘Chinese virus’, ‘Kung Flu’, and the ‘W. Chu said that “These attacks are no accident. It’s clear January 6 was not the only violence Donald Trump incited.” However, some of the Former President’s supporters would defend his words, saying that, as the virus came from Wuhan in China, he was simply describing the location of the virus’ origin.
California has been badly affected by the violence. One case which took place in California was that of 84-year-old Vichar Ratanapakdee, who died after being shoved to the ground. Ratanapakdee, an immigrant from Thailand, never regained consciousness after the brutal assault. His family said that the attack was ‘driven by hate’. Three people were also shoved by a man in Oakland’s Chinatown. The victims, two men aged 91 and 60, and a woman aged 55, were injured.
In New York City, numerous attacks have taken place, including one which took place in a bakery. After the 52-year-old victim was pushed to the ground, her head hit a pole and she had to get stitches. The police said that, ‘thanks to numerous tips from the community’, the suspect was caught. He has been identified as Patrick Mateo, and was released after less than 24 hours after he was arrested. In another incident, two seniors were assaulted on the New York subway.
In response to the attacks, President Joe Biden issued an executive order condemning the wave of racism towards Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Former President Bill Clinton also spoke out against the attacks on twitter. He said:
“I’m deeply concerned about the rise in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans. We must speak out against discrimination of all kinds, reject the ignorant rhetoric driving this wave of violence, and reach out to support our neighbors.”