More than 9,000 anti-Asian incidents have been reported across the United States since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to a report released on Thursday.
Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition that tracks and responds to racially motivated hate crimes towards Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, received 9,081 reports between 19 March 2020 and this June. A total of 4,548 hate crimes occurred in 2020 and another 4,533 occurred in 2021.
Since the coronavirus was first reported in China, members of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities across the US have faced bigotry in the form of verbal harassment and physical attacks. Many blame Donald Trump for helping to stir anti-Asian sentiment by using racist terms when referring to the virus, such as “Chinese virus” and “kung flu”.
According to the report, 63.7% of the incidents involved verbal harassment and 16.5% involved shunning – the deliberate avoidance of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. About 13.7% of the reports were of physical assault, the third-largest category of total reported incidents. Civil rights violations accounted for 11% of the incidents while online harassment made up 8.3%.
Incidents reported by women made up 63.3% of all reports.
The number of seniors – 60 years old and older – reporting hate crimes increased from 6.5% in 2020 to 7.2% in 2021. Since the pandemic began, the majority of the headline-making attacks have involved senior Asians across the country, with many being beaten, kicked, shoved or stabbed.
“When you encourage hate, it’s not like a genie in a bottle where you can pull it out and push it back in whenever you want,” said Manjusha Kulkarni, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate and executive director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council. “There’s too much perpetuating these belief systems to make them go away.”
Kulkarni cites several factors that contributed to the data, including a reopened economy that resulted in increased public interactions and opportunities to attack. Moreover, a reporting spike usually occurs after a high-profile incident such as the March 16 Atlanta spa shootings that left eight people dead, including six Asian women.
In May, Joe Biden signed the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act, expediting the justice department’s review of hate crimes and making grants available in order to help local law enforcement agencies improve their investigation, identification and reporting of racially charged incidents.
Stop AAPI Hate praised the bill but criticized its focus on law enforcement over community-led reform.
“Because the act centers criminal law enforcement agencies in its solutions, it will not address the overwhelming majority of incidents reported to our site, which are not hate crimes, but serious hate incidents,” the coalition said in a statement in May.
The Associated Press contributed to this report