Violence Against Asian-Americans is on the Rise

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By Lauren Reiser, Senior Editor

Hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased dramatically this past year. Attacks started as early as the beginning of the pandemic, with former President Trump igniting anti-Asian xenophobia by referring to covid-19 as the “China virus.” The San Francisco-based group Stop AAPI Hate, which tracks anti-Asian American and Pacific Island attacks, and other community groups have recorded more than 3,000 anti-Asian incidents nationwide since last March.

Just in the past month, an 84-year-old Thai man, Vicha Ratanapakdee, was violently shoved to the ground in San Francisco and died of his injuries. A Filipino man in New York was slashed in the face on the subway and had to receive almost 100 stitches. Two Asian women were attacked in separate incidents on the New York subway last week. A 36-year-old Asian American man was stabbed in Chinatown on Thursday.

Compared to about 100 attacks that community trackers have recorded annually in prior years, this significant spike has prompted calls for action and activism across the country. Mr. Vicha’s killing in particular has sparked an awareness campaign by numerous prominent Asian-Americans, who used the hastags #JusticeForVicha and #StopAsianHate.

Activist Amanda Nguyen, founder and CEO of the non-governmental civil rights organization, Rise, highlighted these recent anti-Asian attacks on social media in a video that has now been viewed over 9 million times.

“I was blood boiling in my veins mad,” she said. “It was not only because I saw our community being murdered, being lit on fire, being stabbed but also because the mainstream media wasn’t covering it.”

San Francisco District Attorney Boudin announced earlier in February that the DA’s Office has filed charges against two people for a crime that killed 76-year-old Jack Palladino and will file charges against the person responsible for the murder of Vicha.

“My heart goes out to the families of both victims for these senseless, violent attacks. These horrific crimes cause seniors and all of us to feel unsafe,” said District Attorney Boudin. “Violent crimes are my top priority. We will hold the people who committed these crimes accountable: we will prosecute them for murder.”

In response to an attack against a 52-year-old woman in Flushing, Queens, Democrat Andrew Yang, who is running for mayor of New York City, also tweeted, “This is awful and unacceptable – NYPD should treat this is a hate crime, catch the perpetrator and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. No one should be targeted on the basis of their race. Anti-Asian sentiment is rising and there is no place for it in New York.”

Wayne Hills Senior Lydia Yang believes that Donald Trump’s continuous referral to covid-19 has contributed to this spike in attacks against Asian Americans.

“As the President of the United States, every word that he speaks has a large impact on society, especially his impressionable followers. During this time of panic for everyone, it’s natural for people to displace their anger towards groups of people, and the emphasis on China made Chinese and other Asian-Americans be further perceived as the ‘other,’ which I think may have caused people to act out towards us,” said Yang.

Yang also commented, “Personally, I think the model-minority myth plays a huge role in how many people perceive Asian-Americans. People say that we are not even considered people of color because “we’re naturally more smart and hardworking” when that’s simply not the case. I think once we start recognizing that Asians are also people of color who face discrimination and the mainstream begins treating our issues with more reverence rather than dismissing them simply because we are the “model minority,” more awareness will be raised about the racism we face.”