Racism Fuels Hate Crimes Against Asians


From the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, politicians have repeatedly targeted China for being at fault for the outbreak. Many lawmakers and Asian-Americans have criticized Former President Donald Trump’s use of terms like “Kung Flu” and “China virus” to refer to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since then, there has been a rise in hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans due to the origin of the virus: Wuhan, China.

However, the rise in the hate has not just been exclusive to slur use. Many Asian-Americans have reported being verbally and physically harassed with racist and xenophobic rhetoric with claims about their involvement with the creation and spread of the virus. Violence against Asian Americans has been taken to another level and members of the Asian community have since then created a new hashtag titled “Stop Asian Hate” in order to spread awareness of the ongoing and heightened racism throughout the pandemic.

Members of the Massachusetts’s Asian American Commission protest racism aimed at Asian communities in Boston. Photo: Steven Senne/AP

During an anti-Asian hate protest in Diamond Bar, California, a man drove past many people on a crosswalk and exited his car to yell “F- China” at the protesters. The driver ran a red light and nearly hit some of the protesters.

L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn stated, “The brazenness of doing this at an Anti-Hate rally speaks to the level that people will go to harass and bully communities of color.” Police are now currently investigating this case as a hate crime.

According to a NY Reporter, a 68 year old man was punched in the face unprovoked while the suspect yelled anti-Asian slurs while on a subway. Along with that case, a 54 year old woman was bashed over the head with a pipe while the suspect, a 34 year old man, yelled anti-Asian slurs and approached her while armed.

Another recent case is of 76 year old, Xiao Zhen Xie who was leaning against a traffic pole when she was punched in the face by a 36 year old man, Steve Jenkins, on Market Street in San Francisco. Xie retaliated by grabbing a stick and beating Jenkins with it. Jenkins is suspected to have attacked at least two other Asian-Americans before the assault on Xiao Zhen Xie which further proves the anti-Asian hate.

On March 19, tragedy struck when a mass shooting took place in Atlanta, killing eight people, six of which were Asian. The shootings occurred at three different locations: one in Cherokee County and two in Atlanta. Public officials raised fears that anti-Asian bias was a motive but has not been confirmed and still under investigation. Despite the motive being under investigation, many believe this was a hate crime as the majority of the victims were Asian.

Members of the Atlanta Korean American Committee Against Asian Hate Crime hold a remembrance vigil at the scene of two of the massage parlor shootings in Atlanta
Photo: Cherokee County

The spree took place at three different spas: one in Cherokee County and two in Atlanta. The shooting took the lives of Delaina Ashley Yaun, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Paul Andre Michels, Hyun Jung Grant, Soon Chung Park, Sun Cha Kim, and Yong Ae Yue. The lone survivor, Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, is currently in intensive care after suffering from gunshot wounds to the forehead, lungs, and stomach at Young’s Asian Spa.

The suspect, 21-year old Robert Long, was taken into custody shortly after the shootings and faces eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault. According to NBC News, authorities said Long “had a sexual addiction and saw the businesses as a temptation he needed to eliminate.” However, the motive is still under investigation despite Long’s statement. Long was also on his way to Florida when he was caught, potentially traveling to target more of the same businesses.

During a news conference on Wednesday, March 20, Cherokee County public information officer Capt. Jay Baker stated, “[Long] was pretty much fed up and had been kind of at the end of his rope,” and “Yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did.” Almost immediately, the sheriff’s office faced extreme backlash because of Baker’s choice of words that reduced the gravity of this mass shooting to “having a bad day.”

Shortly after this incident, the Daily Beast, a news publication, reported that Baker has a history of anti-Asian acts. A photo posted on Facebook by Baker shows a shirt with a racist and anti-Asian message about Covid-19. Posted on April 2, 2020,  the message states, “Covid 19 imported virus from Chy-na.” Many social media users have expressed that his anti-Asian behavior explains the downplaying of a hate crime against Asians.

Following this incident, Claudia Choi, an Asian American, and her mother received a letter following the passing of her father. The letter wrote “Now that Byong is gone it makes one less Asian put up within the Leisure World. Watch out. Pack your bags and go back to your country where you belong.” This upset Choi and said this dehumanizes her and other Asians. They have reached out to the police who are investigating this as a hate crime and conducting DNA analysis, fingerprinting analysis, handwriting analysis, neighborhood canvasses, and video surveillance reviews. The police chief, Phillip L. Gonshak, says that they have seen a surge of hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and “Hate towards any member of our community is disgusting and will not be tolerated.” Seal Beach Police Department is working closely with the Choi family to find the writer of the note.

These are just a few of the thousands of hate crimes that Asian-Americans face daily. As a result of these crimes, many people of the Asian community have created organizations in order to spread awareness. The Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) created the platform, “Stand Against Hatred” to encourage Asian Americans to share their experiences of discrimination as a way to expose real stories and educate others. Overall, the hate against Asian Americans is worsening, but spreading awareness and educating people on how to be supportive and reduce the hate is a step towards peace.