Washington / New York (AP) – It happens in broad daylight in the middle of Manhattan. A man runs after a woman, kicks her. The 65-year-old American of Asian descent falls to the ground, the man continues to kick. To her head, over and over.
A police officer in New York describes the photos of the attack in late March as “really disturbing, really disgusting”. On Tuesday, the Police Task Force Against Hate Crimes released a video shot near Times Square on Sunday. This time, a woman attacks two Asian women with a hammer. And in the evening, San Francisco police reported a knife attack on two elderly Asian women at a bus stop.
The incidents are examples of a development that US authorities are increasingly concerned about. US Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks of a “worrying trend” and a “significant increase in attacks and intimidation” motivated by prejudice against Americans of Asian descent. According to New York police, most hate crimes in the metropolis since the beginning of the year have been directed against Asians or people of Asian descent.
“Hatred cannot have a safe haven in America. It has to stop, ”said US President Joe Biden shortly after a series of deadly attacks in and near the city of Atlanta, Georgia, turned the country upside down in mid-March. In a short time eight people were shot in three massage parlors. Most of the victims were of Asian descent. The suspect stated that he was not acting out of racist motives and instead cited sex addiction as a motive. But the bloody act fueled the debate over growing discrimination against Americans of Asian descent.
The hatred is evident in a country where racism, especially against blacks, is deeply entrenched – and which until a few months ago had a president who spoke not about the coronavirus but about the ‘China virus’: Donald Trump. Despite allegations of racism, the Republican repeatedly used the term “Kung Flu” for Corona. Trump had repeatedly compared the virus to the flu, “flu” in English.
Karthick Ramakrishnan doesn’t want to hold Trump solely responsible for the increase in hostilities. His rhetoric contributed to the fact that a particular story was set in the pandemic, he told NBC News. Ramakrishnan is the founder and director of the non-governmental organization AAPI Data, which is currently raising awareness of anti-Asian tendencies.
It’s difficult to deal with numbers. Senator Mazie Hirono has complained that hate crimes and other incidents are “clearly underrepresented”. An FBI official during a background interview with journalists in March did not provide data on an ongoing investigation into anti-Asian hatred, but said the number of incidents had increased in recent years. Hirono and other senators repeatedly cite police data from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, according to which anti-Asian crime in 16 of America’s largest cities increased by more than 140 percent year over year by 2020.
The online platform Stop AAPI Hate has been collecting information about anti-Asian incidents since March 2020, which those affected can report themselves. It was launched by advocacy groups and the Institute for Asian-American Studies at San Francisco State University in response to the “alarming escalation of xenophobia” triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. According to the information, nearly 3,800 racist incidents against Asian Americans were reported on the platform between March 2020 and February 2021 – from verbal assaults to physical violence and vandalism.
The figure is also cited in a bill that the Senate approved in April with the rare support of representatives of both parties – there was only one vote against it. The bill aims, among other things, to speed up the investigation of hate crimes by the US Department of Justice and to expand the channels for reporting incidents. Public awareness campaigns are designed to raise awareness of hate crimes.
The vote for the law shows those affected: “We see you, we will stand by you, we will protect you,” said Senator and Iraq veteran Tammy Duckworth, whose mother was Thai. But much more needs to be done. The House of Representatives – the lower house of the United States Congress – is expected to address the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act this month.
The American historian and music critic Jeff Chang emphasizes that the story that Asians carry disease and come from outside to contaminate the places is not a new story. This bias cannot be destroyed overnight, Chang says in a podcast on the US news portal Vox. “I think the Asian-American community is currently demanding to be seen. So now let’s raise our voices. We say, “Hey, look what’s going on here? We need your help, right? We need your support.”