The Rise of Anti-Asian Hate Crimes

Riya Shah

Without a doubt, the Asian community is being attacked. Many violent incidents have been seen throughout the past few months targeting Asian-Americans, and since the pandemic began, hatred and racism towards this group has drastically increased. Asians are being scapegoated for many of the problems caused by COVID-19, with people as high up as Former President Donald Trump referring to the virus as the “China Virus” and “Kung-Flu”, blaming the country and Asians for the pandemic. According to the NYPD, hate crimes motivated by anti-Asian sentiment skyrocketed 1,900% in New York City in 2020 (Time). The surge of xenophobia and assaults on the Asian population have been directed mainly towards the elderly.

As of February 2021, more than 2,800 incidents of discrimination have been reported against Asian-Americans. One attack included an 84-year-old Thai man, Vicha Ratanapadkee who was violently shoved into the ground and killed by a man in San Francisco. A 91-year-old man was pushed from behind and landed facedown on the street in the Chinatown neighborhood of Oakland. Christian Hall, a 19-year-old man, was standing near a bridge with suggestions that he was contemplating suicide. He was shot by Pennsylvania State Police while experiencing this mental health crisis. In New York City, a Filipino man was brutally slashed across the face. A man on the subway was arrested for spitting and yelling racial slurs at an Asian woman. Accounts of hate and violence go on and on. The AAPI, Asian American and Pacific Islander organization, said it has received almost 3,000 reported incidents of aggression targeting people of Asian descent between March and December of 2020. The safety and security of these minority groups have been at serious risk since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. These crimes have become too frequent in the Asian community, and action must be taken. 

Rallies have been held in New York City and Los Angeles to protest and show awareness for this prominent issue. The rally in Times Square was hosted by the Asian American Federation, an umbrella organization that advocates for better services and policies for Asian Americans.  Political leaders and government officials are showing solidarity and support for the community. This spike of hate crimes has led the NYPD to create an Asian Hate Crime Task Force to manage the violence. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city was working to increase communication with community leaders by creating a website to help people report and respond to attacks. 

Usually, the Lunar New Year is a time for celebrating the cultural pride of Chinese heritage and the beginning of a new calendar year. People all over the world decorate, spend time with family and friends, make traditional foods, light fireworks, and give red envelopes or other gifts. This holiday is observed across multiple countries, used for welcoming a new year of good fortune and prosperity. Unfortunately with the current situation and the rise of assaults, this time of celebration has had a lost impact on the Asian community. 

There are many ways that allies can unite to help those suffering through these difficult times. Raising awareness is one of the easiest ways to show support for the community. Signing and sharing petitions and watching/reading and sharing information about the increase of anti-asion violence can help make an impact. Asian American businesses were hit especially hard during COVID-19. Many people are unemployed due to the discrimination and racism being faced. Supporting local Asian-owned businesses will help so many people who are struggling financially. It’s also important to know how to be a bystander in these situations. Report any instances of anti-asian crimes and assault to state or local law enforcement. In addition, there are many fundraisers to help the families of individual victims. Donations are also being accepted at organizations such as Asian Americans for Equality, The Asian American Federation, and Mekong NYC. Supporting and advocating for Asian Americans amid the recent wave of hate crimes can go a long way in helping the community as a whole.