Anti-Asian hate on rise in US

19
London

An elderly Thai immigrant dies after being shoved to the ground. A Filipino-American is slashed in the face with a box cutter.

A Chinese woman is slapped and then set on fire. These are just examples of recent violent attacks on Asian Americans, part of a surge in abuse since the start of the pandemic a year ago.

From being spat on and verbally harassed to incidents of physical assault, there have been thousands of reported cases in recent months.

Advocates and activists say these are hate crimes, and often linked to rhetoric that blames Asian people for the spread of Covid-19.

The FBI warned at the start of the Covid outbreak in the US that it expected a surge in hate crimes against those of Asian descent.

Federal hate crime data for 2020 has not yet been released, though hate crimes in 2019 were at their highest level in over a decade.

Late last year, the United Nations issued a report that detailed “an alarming level” of racially motivated violence and other hate incidents against Asian Americans.

It is difficult to determine exact numbers for such crimes and instances of discrimination, as no organisations or governmental agencies have been tracking the issue long-term, and reporting standards can vary region to region.

The advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate said it received more than 2,800 reports of hate incidents directed at Asian Americans nationwide last year. The group set up its online self-reporting tool at the start of the pandemic.

Local law enforcement is taking notice too: the New York City hate crimes task force investigated 27 incidents in 2020, a nine fold increase from the previous year. In Oakland, California, police have added patrols and set up a command post in Chinatown.

These incidents are best explained by the “widespread omission” of Asian Americans within cultural conversations, according to Amanda Nguyen, an activist and the founder of the Rise civil rights not-for-profit organisation.

Although the Asian population grew faster than other major groups in the last US census, the community’s stories are not widely covered in the media and its concerns are not polled by political parties, Ms Nguyen told the BBC.—Agencies