As the COVID-19 delta variant continues to surge across the county, another pandemic—racism—is also reaching new heights. Crimes targeting the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community have continued to rise since the start of the pandemic. Each month, new reports are released indicating that hate crimes are occurring at alarming rates.
A recent report found that at least 4,533 anti-Asian incidents were reported in the first six months of this year. But that’s not all: Alongside this report comes new data compiled by the FBI. According to data released by the FBI Monday, hate crimes targeting people of Asian descent in the U.S. rose by 70% last year when compared to the number of such incidents in 2019. The report found that more than 10,000 people reported hate crimes to law enforcement, the highest tally of reported hate crimes since 2008.
Despite fewer agencies reporting hate crime incidents, the number represents the highest level of hate crimes in over 12 years. Hate crimes are defined by the agency as crimes “motivated by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity.”
The report’s data is based on incident reports submitted by more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide. Since the U.S. has more than 18,000 agencies, this indicates that more than 3,000 did not submit their crime statistics in 2020. Overall, hate crimes in the U.S. rose by 6%, the report said.
The increase is mainly being connected to racists and xenophobes blaming Asian Americans for the current pandemic.
Despite legislation against Asian American hate being passed for the first time in April, xenophobia has been present in the U.S. for generations. It only got worse last year during Donald Trump’s term as president. Trump consistently blamed China for the pandemic, which furthered anti-Asian sentiment already present in some communities.
His spread of COVID-19 misinformation and use of xenophobic language like “Chinese virus,” “Wuhan virus,” and “Kung Flu” have been connected to a rapid surge in hate crimes nationwide. As people were forced to stay at home due to safety measures in place, they took their frustration out on the AAPI community, who they blamed for the virus, a report found according to Daily Kos.
In addition to addressing the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans, the FBI report also focused on incidents targeting Black or African American people in the country, as well. According to the report, in 2020 there were 2,755 reported incidents targeting Black or African American people, a 40% spike from the year before.
In a statement Monday, Attorney General Merrick Garland noted that the data does “not account for the many hate crimes that go unreported.”
“These hate crimes and other bias-related incidents instill fear across entire communities and undermine the principles upon which our democracy stands,” Garland said.
“All people in this country should be able to live without fear of being attacked or harassed because of where they are from, what they look like, whom they love or how they worship,” he said
According to the FBI, 7,759 criminal incidents were included in the hate crimes report. Additionally, of the hate crime incidents included in the report, 22 were murders and 19 were rapes. A majority of the hate crimes reported involved intimidation of victims, while nearly 46% were either simple or aggravated assaults.
“While the numbers in this report are shocking, we know that they are not even close to the complete picture,” said Rep. Judy Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. According to The Washington Post, Chu credited the rise in hate crimes to the “increasingly racist and xenophobic rhetoric from political leaders.” She noted the FBI’s report “must be a wake-up call to all who irresponsibly spread fear and anger in our communities that they are putting lives at risk.”
While the report focuses on hate crimes impacting all races and ethnicities nationally and indicates an overall slow rise in hate crimes, data from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino has found that hate crimes against Asian Americans surged in 2020 in at least 15 cities, Daily Kos reported. As the data was further reviewed, reports indicated that crimes against Asian Americans rose by 169% when comparing the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021.
The AAPI community needs our support now more than ever, whether it be checking in on our family and friends, spreading awareness of COVID-19 misconceptions, or contacting members of Congress to do more against anti-Asian hate. Check out this guide on resources and ways to support the AAPI community and our Asian friends. Hate is the real virus, and we must end it.