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Anti-Asian hate crimes and harassment increase during a pandemic



Kiwi Wonpeng was stopped at a traffic light in the Cleveland suburbs when a man stopped next to her and motioned for her to go down through the window.

“Get out of my country – this is an order!” He shouted from his pickup. After a pause, he added, “I’ll kill you.”

This was not her first brush with racism. But she had never heard anything so direct and violent until last April, as cities in the country closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to her, the man mistaken her for Chinese and blamed her for the virus, which originated in Wuhan, China.

“I felt scared not only of myself but of my community and Asians across the country,”

; said Wonpeng, 34, whose family immigrated to the United States from Thailand 20 years ago and owns a Thai restaurant.

Her rising hatred is confirmed by the data. In a survey of police departments in 16 major US cities, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, a research office in Cal State San Bernardino, found a total of 122 anti-Asian hate crimes last year – an increase of 149% compared to 49 in 2019.

Overall levels rose in 15 of the 16 cities, with New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle and San Jose experiencing the most significant increases and their highest amounts in at least five years.

Chinese and Korean restaurants devastated by anti-Asian epithets and stereotypes – “stop eating dogs”, says graffiti in a noodle shop in New York. Older Asian Americans were pushed into the street in broad daylight. And a Burmese refugee and his children who were attacked by a man with a knife.

The increase in anti-Asian crimes occurred as total hate crimes against all minority groups fell by 7% from 1845 to 1717.

Brian Levin, director of the Cal Center, described the rise in hatred as one of the “historical significance for our nation and the Asian-American community.”

“Opinion polls, mocking online activity, harassment and crime data have been collected to show a high prevalence and increase in aggressive behavior toward Asian Americans,” he said.

The rise is almost certainly linked to the pandemic, which originated in China and fuels broader concerns about what threat the country’s growing economic and political power poses to the United States.

President Trump called it the Wuhan virus and rebuked critics who worried it provoked anti-Asian sentiment as “politically correct.” A recent Pew study found that negative views of China in the United States peaked at almost 20 years ago.

In New York, where the number of anti-Asian hate crimes jumped from three to 28, all but four were linked to the coronavirus.

Many of the incidents in 2020 in New York – and across the country – occurred in the early days of the pandemic, when fears were highest.

In February, an Asian American woman wearing a face mask at a Manhattan subway station was kicked and hit by a man who called her “sick.”

In March, an Asian American walking with his 10-year-old son was followed and hit over the head by a stranger who attacked him for not wearing a mask.

In April, an Asian American woman in the Bronx was attacked on a bus by a woman and three teenage girls who hit her with an umbrella and blamed her for the start of the pandemic.

“There’s no question about it: All Asians feel extremely vulnerable because the attacks have definitely increased,” said Don Lee, a Brooklyn community activist. “Bullying, straining, pushing.”

The most comprehensive national data on hate crimes comes from the FBI, which defines them as “crimes against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by the offender’s bias against race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity.” “

The FBI, which relies on voluntary law enforcement opinions, is not expected to release data for 2020 until November. But all indications are that this will be a record year for hate crimes targeting Asians.

While most of what is known so far comes from major police departments that have published their own data, Levin said some of the worst anti-Asian hate crimes have taken place in smaller cities – including the attack on the Burmese refugee. and his two sons.

Last March, Bowie Kung, 34, was shopping for groceries at Sam’s club in Midland, Texas, when a man grabbed a knife from a nearby trunk.

Kung was stabbed in the face, a 3-year-old was stabbed in the back and a 6-year-old was stabbed in the face.

An employee of Sam’s Club intervened and dealt with the suspect, 19-year-old Jose Gomez, who was charged with a hate crime and attempted murder and is awaiting trial.

“Gomez admitted, he admitted that he tried to kill the family,” Midland Dist said. Atty. Laura Nodolf. “He thought they had brought the virus here and were trying to spread it,” and that “all Asians must be from China.”

“Most people think that hate crimes, white sheets, white hats, follow someone who is of African descent,” she said. “This is a whole new dynamic.”

Police figures do not include harassment, which is much more common but not considered criminal.

Stop AAPI Hate, a tracker maintained by Asian-American advocacy groups, recorded 1,990 incidents of anti-Asian harassment and 246 assaults in the 10 months since its launch in March 2020.

Manjusha Kulkarni, co-founder of the tracker and executive director of the Asia-Pacific Policy and Planning Council, said Trump’s rhetoric about the coronavirus was partly to blame.

“In a recent analysis, we found that a quarter of the incidents we track involved a perpetrator using language similar to Trump’s,” she said. “Things like ‘Wuhan virus,’ China virus, ‘kung flu’ and ‘go back to your country.'”

The victims who stopped tracking AAPI Hate were mostly Americans from China – 40% – and Americans from Korea – 15%.

“This and the statements of the victims tell us that people are probably targeting people who they think are from China. COVID-19 does not start in Korea, “Kulkarni said. “But racists are not always accurate.”

Marie Cobb, a 26-year-old laboratory technician in research immunology and genomics at the University of Chicago, said she watched in horror as hatred even hit her. Her mother is Japanese from America and her father is white, which she thinks people usually see.

This January at Taco Bell, she was filling her glass in the soda dispenser as a man approached her.

“The Oriental has touched the dispenser!” He shouted. “Stop her!” She started this whole thing! ”

The reference to COVID-19 was clear.

Cobb later shared his story on Instagram and was eventually featured on standagainsthatred.org, a referral site recently launched by the Asian American advocacy group Advancing Justice.

“Growing up, my mother told me it could happen,” Cobb said. “But I think my white privilege prevented me from going through much.”

In an era of growing anti-racism activism, she said concerns should not be limited to blacks and Latin American communities.

“The number of people who are actively trying to become anti-racists is growing, and I think that’s great, but I also think you need to include Asians in this conversation.”

Times writers Molly Hennessy-Fiske of Minneapolis and Jenny Jarvey of Atlanta contributed to the report.




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