Tackling the Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Soaring Across America

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Rally against anti-Asian Hate Crimes in Downtown Los Angeles, Screenshot by Fox 11 via YouTube.

After the surges seen in hate crimes against Asians in the United States, California is leading the re-invigorated charge against combating these attacks by passing a bill on Monday allocating $1.4 million to tracking hate crimes through the Stop APPI Hate reporting center, The Sacramento Bee details. 

Stop AAPI Hate is an online system in which victims of bias, hate or violence due to Asian ethnicity can self-report the event. The platform, started last March, has so far shown over 2,800 self-reports in 2020, and the states with the largest number of reported incidents are California (43 percent) and New York (13 percent), Yahoo News explains. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other officials followed California’s advocacy lead on Tuesday, speaking to the public about the city’s renewed efforts to confront hate crimes through rejuvenating the NYPD’s Asian Hate Crime Task Force — with a particular focus on subway and transit system attacks, ABC7 News details.

Additional Reading: NYPD Creates Asian Hate Crime Task Force

“Every community suffered, but there’s been a particular pain, a particular horrible challenge, faced by the Asian American community,” de Blasio said on Tuesday. “Because on top of all the suffering from the coronavirus itself, on top of losing loved ones, losing businesses, people have had to confront horrible discrimination and hatred.”

The Asian Hate Crime Task Force focuses on events that take place throughout the entire city, but the force is unfunded and made up entirely of volunteer participants. 

The NYPD reports that anti-Asian sentiment jumped 1,900 percent in New York City in 2020, and the problem only continues to grow.

To that end, some activists are skeptical of the NYPD Asian Hate Crime Task Force and its effectiveness, as leaders of Asian American community groups expressed concern over the initiative’s unintended consequences, NBC News details.  

“I think it’s hard for us to fundamentally reconcile that that entity is going to protect our community, when, oftentimes, violence against people of color is coming from law enforcement,” Kham Moua, head of the policy portfolio at the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization, told NBC News in September when the task force was announced.

The Rise of Anti-Asian Discrimination Nationwide

Advocacy to tackle the stark rise in the number of hate crimes against Asian Americans was reinvigorated as a horrific video surfaced of a male assailant shoving a 91-year-old Asian man on the sidewalk, seriously injuring him. 

The same assailant later shoved to the ground a 60-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman on the same block. All three victims had to be treated at a local hospital, the Guardian explained. 

“[The attackers] appear to be more violent for whatever reason, and that’s why we need to stop this now,” said Captain Bobby Hookfin with the Oakland Police Department, as quoted by ABC7 News.

Unfortunately, the anti-Asian attacks have increased over the past few months, prompting President Biden to sign an executive action last month banning the government from saying anything “inflammatory and xenophobic,” the Washington Post reports. 

The executive action nods to the language used by the former president and his supporters—such as “China plague” and “kung flu”—as unacceptable.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 3,000 hate incidents directed at Asian Americans have been recorded, CBS News details, 

According to Stop AAPI Hate’s national data, “physical assaults” comprised 8.7 percent of these incidents, while “coughing/spitting” totaled 6.4 percent. “Verbal harassment” constituted 70.9 percent of the incidents; and “shunning or avoidance” made up 21.4 percent, the Guardian reports. 

‘Policing Is a Band-Aid’

Moua and Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the nonprofit National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, say the type of task force the NYPD is mobilizing won’t detangle the racist association between Asian Americans and the COVID-19 pandemic, or address the root of anti-Asian sentiment.

The activists also worry that worst of all, the task force won’t necessarily reduce the number of hate crime incidents. 

“I think this is one of those things where they’re putting a Band-Aid on a situation where I feel like there’s a lot more that can be done to address deeper issues,” Choimorrow told NBC News, with Moua adding that problematic beliefs are shaped by the environments and narratives that we’re all a part of.

“We know that for a lot of young people, learning about hate starts at home,” Moua said. “They learned from their parents, their social circles or the Internet,” which makes it more difficult to externally control.

Because of this, Choimorrow says that rather than relying on a volunteer task force, she’s been pushing lawmakers to look to legislation, educating the community and curbing the virus’s spread.

“What we’re asking for requires more labor and time from leaders,” she said.

Moua is also in favor of allocating more resources to restorative justice solutions creating open dialogues between victim and perpetrator. 

He concluded: “We think people should be given an opportunity to try to change. Having a task force focus, even if it’s framed as protecting Asian Americans, is focused on punitive measures and doesn’t create space and room for change.”

Additional Reading: FBI Hate Crimes at ‘Highest Level in More Than a Decade’

Andrea Cipriano is a TCR staff writer.

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