NEW YORK — From an attack on an 81-year-old man violently shoved in Oakland, to a woman attacked on the streets of Flushing in Queens, the images are seared in our minds — a surge of anti-Asian hate crimes in the city and across the country.
President Joe Biden condemned the violence last week, saying “it is wrong, it is un-American and it must stop.”
The NYPD started an Asian Hate Crime Task Force last year amid increasing attacks as the coronavirus pandemic reached the United States.
Even Tuesday, the NYPD deploying officers to Asian American communities after a 21-year-old was taken into custody, suspected of involvement in three shootings at massage parlors in Atlanta.
“Individuals who are seen or perceived as being vulnerable are being targeted, so that includes not only seniors, but youth and women,” said Manju Kulkarni, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council.
She’s also the co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that released alarming statistics Tuesday.
They received 3,795 complaints between March 19, 2020 until Feb. 28, 2021. The self-reported bias incidents come from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The majority, 68%, were verbal assaults.
Physical assaults make up 11% and 8.5% were civil rights violations, including workplace and housing discrimination and being refused service at a restaurant or grocery store.
“We certainly hope that the data and the info is activating and galvanizing community members to take action,” Kulkarni said.
Sadly, the true number of violence and harassment incidents against Asian Americans is likely higher. Many cases go unreported.
But more and more victims are speaking out, from incidents constituted as a crime, to the more common incidents of verbal assaults.
Over the weekend, an Asian American couple was verbally harassed on a Manhattan street by an unidentified woman telling them to “go back to China.”
Cases like this have skyrocketed the past year — Kulkarni says due in large part to ignorance over COVID-19 and former President Trump fanning the flames by referring to it as “the China virus,” among other things
She says tracking the data better arms citizens in the call for change.
“We’ve got to take necessary steps to prevent the spread of racism and do what we can to address what’s going on right now.”