Rise in Anti-Asian Hate Crimes
By Kathleen Zapata '24
(South Bay community members protest rise in anti-Asian hate crimes. Photo: ABC7 News.)
The sudden rise in anti-Asian attacks has left Asian-Americans nationwide fearful. The pandemic has unraveled a ripple of hatred and xenophobia against Asians, not only nationally but worldwide. Several of the incidents recorded on videos by bystanders are going viral across the nation, even worldwide.
For months, we’ve seen finger-pointing and redirection of the blame for COVID-19 from politicians and world leaders. Derogatory rhetoric and name-calling, with terms like “Kung Flu,” “China Virus,” “Wuhan Virus,” etc., have further stigmatized Asians as a whole nationwide and worldwide. Anti-Asian rhetoric in this manner has continued to fan a racial animus resulting in violence.
Ranging from verbal harassment to physical assaults, according to the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at CSU San Bernardino, anti-Asian hate crimes catapulted in 2020 to 150% of 2019’s total. Stop AAPI Hate, an advocacy group, reported receiving over 3,292 reports on their website in 2020 across the nation as the pandemic began. In the report, they noted that over 68% of the victims were women. Adding on to this, many experts have agreed that there is a significant underreporting of these crimes. Difficulties such as language barriers, legal resources, and lack of trust in the police are some of the reasons that could hinder victims from reporting crimes. Nevertheless, there is a clear growing anxiety between Asians living here.
Some of the instances happened here in the Bay Area, rattling the Asian community. Since the start of the pandemic, the Bay Area alone has reported over 700 anti-Asian-related attacks. Many of the brazen attacks targeted the elderly, further fueling anger among the community. On January 28, security footage showed 84-year-old Vichar Ratanapakdee fatally assaulted in San Francisco after taking his morning walk. Xiao Zhen Xie, 75, in a now-viral video, was shown fighting off her attacker after being punched in the face while leaning on a pole in Market Street. Seen bleeding in one eye, she repeatedly sobbed, “You bum. He hit me.” 75-year-old Pak Ho was fatally assaulted in Oakland after getting pushed to the ground by his assailant. As many other incidents pile on, the blatant attacks against the seniors, especially in broad daylight, continue to anger many, particularly since seniors are highly respected in many Asian cultures.
Nationwide, the violence is just as ubiquitous. In New York City, a Filipino man was slashed across the face with a box cutter. Also in NYC, a 65-year-old Filipina woman was hospitalized after being brutally attacked as security guards stood by, later closing the door on her. In Atlanta, a shooting rampage at three massage spas took the lives of eight people, six being Asian women. Even though the suspect has denied racial motivations, the tragedy has sent a wave of anguish through the Asian-American community.
As a direct retaliation to the violence, several rallies have been scheduled across the Bay Area. Social media campaigns such as #StopAsianHate and #ProtectAsianLives have proliferated the Internet aimed to help take action against the attacks. #StopAsianHate rallies are drawing thousands, as citizens rally in the streets of San Francisco, NYC, Los Angeles, and many more to voice out their frustrations. Asians and activists nationwide are calling for the government to take action to prevent violence and implement change.