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Survey finds one-third of Asian Americans fear threats, attacks

Most say violence against them rising
Stop AAPI Hate sign, Stop Asian American Hate sign
Posted at 2:10 PM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-27 18:34:15-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have surged in the U.S. since the coronavirus pandemic first began last year and have continued into 2021.

Scenes of random attacks on people of Asian descent in multiple states, including a March mass shooting at three Atlanta-area spas, have fueled concern and brought attention to the growing problem.

A Pew Research study released in April found that 32 percent of Asian American adults said they have feared someone might threaten or physically attack them.

The survey found that eight in 10 Asian Americans said violence against them in the U.S. is increasing. Also, nearly half experienced an incident tied to their racial or ethnic background since the start of the pandemic.

Protests held March 21 after spa shooting in Atlanta area
Protesters Dana Liu, center front, and Kexin Huang, right, both of Newton, Mass., display placards during a rally held to support Stop Asian Hate, Sunday, March 21, 2021, in Newton.

Asian Hate Increases in Multiple Cities

A separate study by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino similarly found a surge in anti-Asian hate crimes.

Researchers found anti-Asian hate crime increased 146 percent in 2020 across 26 of America's largest jurisdictions.

They found the first spike in reported hate crimes started in March and April as COVID-19 cases became more prominent in the U.S. and worldwide.

The crimes show some signs of ending as the surge has continued this year in multiple U.S. cities, the report found.

Attack against elderly Asian man in San Leandro, California in May 2021
Police in San Leandro, California, said an 80-year-old man was on a walk when two hooded, masked young men knocked him to the ground, assaulted him and took off his fitness tracker in early May 2021.

Data from the study showed crimes reported to police in 16 of America's largest cities and counties, rose 164 percent, from 36 to 95, in the first four months of 2021 in comparison to the first quarter of 2020.

This included a 223 percent increase in New York City with 42 anti-Asian hate crimes reported in 2021.

For comparison, the California State study found no reports of anti-Asian hate crimes in Miami in 2020 or so far this year.

Psychologists say anti-Asian hate impacts not only the victims but can also have mental health impacts on those indirectly exposed through watching viral videos or viewing news online.

Asian American hate crimes in 2019
Statistics from the federal government show the types of hate crimes committed against Asian Americans in 2019.

What is a hate crime in Florida?

State law defines a hate crime in Florida as when someone or a group commits a crime against another person or group or their property because they hate the victim's personal characteristics.

Covered characteristics include race, gender or gender identity, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, advanced age, mental or physical disability and homeless status.

Working for Change

In an effort to combat attacks against the AAPI community in America, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law this month that increases federal resources for investigating hate crimes.

The law will create a new position at the U.S. Justice Department to expedite the review of potential COVID-19-related hate crimes and incidents reported at the federal, state or local level.

It will also direct the Justice Department and Health and Human Services to work with community-based organizations to issue guidance, raising awareness of hate crimes during the pandemic.

It would require the attorney general to issue guidance to work with state and local law enforcement agencies to establish online reporting of these crimes.

Rallies to support change

Activists across the country have rallied for change this year and urged the end of violence against Asian Americans. Dozens of people gathered in April at Bryant Park in Lake Worth Beach against the surge in attacks.

Psychologist Kevin Nadal said acknowledging that anti-Asian racism exists is the first step to fixing the problem. Education, like teaching AAPI history in classrooms, can also work to combat bias, he said.