Crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders rise in America

The targeting of certain races stems from blame for COVID-19 and a lack of deterrence against hate crimes from authorities

Kennessy Baban and Sophie Shram

Since the start of COVID-19 there has been a major increase in hate crimes against AAPI, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, in major cities across America. According to VOA News,  there has been a 150% increase in hate crimes within the past year. More specifically, there have been 122 crimes in 16 of the major cities of America, compared to the 49 reported cases in 2019. The targeting of AAPI’s have increased exponentially, especially against the elderly. 

In January, a video of an 84-year-old Asian man being attacked in broad daylight in a San Francisco neighborhood spread around the internet. Police reported Antoine Wastson, a 19-year-old man, as the suspect who attacked the senior on a Thursday morning. Police arrived after the incident had occurred, finding the 84-year-old man lying face down on the sidewalk with life-threatening injuries. ABC News stated that police had arrested Watson for elder abuse, assault and murder. But, this is only one of the many hate-crimes that have occurred over the previous year. 

On February 20, hundreds of activists gathered to protest the surge in violent crimes against Asians. The Rise up Against Asian Hate protest, organized by the Asian American Federation (AAF), was attended by over 300 people, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. CNN quoted de Blasio promising the crowd that “anyone who commits an act of hate against the Asian-American community will be found, will be arrested, will be prosecuted.”

Recently, the NYPD formed an unfunded task force of volunteers to stop the increasing number of anti-Asian hate crimes. In addition, from March 31 to December 31 of 2020,  the organization Stop AAPI Hate received 2,808 first hand accounts of violence throughout 47 states. The reports range from verbal and physical abuse to robbery and violence with over 90% of the reports finding that race was the prime motivation. The creation of these organizations are to ensure the prevention of hate-fueled attacks on Asian Americans.

“It’s all over the news, it’s horrifying” stated junior Carter Freudenrich when asked to comment on the recent increase in hate crimes. “In cities where it’s high densities, it’s so dangerous there [for people of AAPI descent] and really disheartening to see especially since the Pandemic is going up. Now Asian Americans are being blamed for the pandemic which is totally wrong and unfactual. It’s just disturbing.”

Shreena Patel, a junior and student of AAPI descent, stated, “I have heard of the anti-Asian hate crimes and it’s so sad that this is what the world has come to. So many Asians around the world are being harassed on the daily and we aren’t able to do anything about it. It’s so sad to see people discriminating against Asians, especially during this pandemic, Asians have received so much hate and been blamed for this virus. This is not okay at all and needs to be fixed as soon as possible.” 

The targeting of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is a widespread issue that will be receiving more coverage on an article that will be published next week on the Opinions section.