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The number of hate crimes perpetrated against Asian Americans appears to keep climbing as the coronavirus pandemic inches towards entering its third year, according to a new report released this week.
A total of 9,081 incidents against Asian and Pacific Islanders, ranging from assault to racist verbal attacks, were recorded between March 19, 2020 and June 2021, according to Stop AAPI Hate, a national organization that documents the alarming numbers. The coalition’s latest hate report was published on Thursday.
"When you encourage hate, it’s not like a genie in a bottle where you can pull it out and push it back in whenever you want," Manjusha Kulkarni, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate and executive director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, told the Associated Press. "There’s too much perpetuating these belief systems to make them go away."
Slightly under half of the reported racially motivated incidents affecting Asian and Pacific Islanders — at least 4,533 of them — occurred in 2021, according to Stop AAPI Hate. A total of 4,548 incidents were reported in 2020.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, which is suspected to have originated in China, crimes targeting Asian and Pacific Islanders have jumped in major cities around the country. Many experts suspect toxic rhetoric and political vitriol scapegoating China for the deadly virus has, in part, led to the current rise in anti-Asian hate crimes across the country.
"We understand that other nation-states are competitors to the United States, and a number of them do have authoritarian regimes," Kulkarni added. "But the ways in which we talk about the people and the ways in which blame is assigned somehow looks different for communities of color than it does for, say, the Russian government or the German government."
Through July in New York City, for example, police have logged a 363% increase in crimes targeting Asian individuals, compared to this same time period last year, according to New York City Police Department data. A total of 111 anti-Asian hate crimes have been recorded by the department in 2021.
A disproportionate number of the reported attacks have also targeted older Asian Americans.
Anni Chung, the president of Self-Help for the Elderly in San Francisco, said that her community’s elderly population is being struck by a "second virus that is a hate virus."
"Sometimes when we talk to seniors, they say this hatred drove them to be stuck in their house even worse than the pandemic," Chung said, according to the AP.
U.S. Census data shows that Asian American families were two times more susceptible to food scarcity during the pandemic, as many were afraid to leave their homes due to the fear of racism and violence.
"There, too, is where we saw some that were incidents that had taken place weeks or months before, but they just were either not aware of our reporting center or didn't take the time to report," Kulkarni added.
In May, President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law, which was largely intended to expedite Department of Justice reviews of suspected hate crimes targeting Asian and Pacific Islanders.
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