Elderly Asian Americans have been subject to increased violence since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic, thanks to Donald Trump’s racist language about COVID-19 and the right-wing “news” media’s quick action in adopting and disseminating it themselves. Throughout the pandemic, elderly members of the Asian American Pacific Islander community, as well as women and gender nonbinary members of the community have been targeted in unprovoked incidents of violence, many resulting in serious injuries and hospitalizations.
In a new, released by Stop AAPI Hate and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), researchers analyzed data based on Stop AAPI Hate’s latest national report and found that 26.2% of seniors who reported crimes in the U.S., Guam, and Puerto Rico between March 2020 and December 2021 had been physically assaulted. At least 824 senior-related incidents were investigated, and the data indicates that seniors were assaulted at a rate twice as high as those under the age of 60.
In addition to being physically assaulted, the most prominent form of an attack reported was verbal harassment or shunning. According to the report, 62.5% of seniors said they experienced this, while 7.8% reported also being coughed and spat upon.
A majority of incidents reported took place on public streets, with those occurring at businesses being the second-most commonplace.
The report also addressed a follow-up survey, conducted from January 2021 to March 2021. The survey polled 62 seniors and found that nearly all of them, about 98.2%, believe that the U.S. has become more physically dangerous for Asian Americans.
“Elder Asian Americans deserve to feel safe—but for the past two years have been struggling with hate, fear, and isolation. This AAPI Heritage Month we need to recommit to their safety and support,” said Russell Jeung, Stop AAPI Hate co-founder and professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University.
The study comes at the time of another by the Pew Research Center which found that 90% of Asian Americans worry that they might be threatened or attacked because of their ethnicity. The statistics aren’t shocking given the rapid rise of violence against the AAPI community. Reports indicate that prior to the pandemic there was an average of 8.1 violent attacks against Asian Americans yearly, that number rose to 163 between 2020 to 2021.
According to the latest study of the 90% of those who worry, one-third have changed their daily routine and schedule out of fear of an attack.
As Asian Americans change their daily routines out of fear of violence, studies have found that violence has increased by 339% in 2021 compared to the previous year.
To address the concerns Asian Americans have, researchers are calling for federal, state, and local governments, as well as local transit agencies and community-based organizations, to make spaces more accessible and safe by passing protective legislation and increasing language access.
“We’re asking that elected officials honor this month with action by creating safer public spaces for AAPI communities and all communities of color,” said Cynthia Choi, Stop AAPI Hate co-founder and co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action. “Funding and supporting community-based organizations across the country is key to building safe places for elder Asian Americans.”
Officials across the country are vowing to take action in regard to the rise in hate crimes. In San Francisco where hate crimes have had one of the largest rises across the country, District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced a new AAPI Unit on Wednesday as part of the District Attorney’s Office’s Victim Services Division. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the unit was launched in an effort to better serve the city’s “historically underserved” community.
Boudin said that the new unit’s director, Paul Lam, will “ensure all AAPI victims of crime receive the services and support they need.”
“I am proud of the work of our office to expand services to our AAPI community, including through increasing language access and support for AAPI crime victims,” Boudin said. “I will also continue to advocate for greater access for all victims to trauma recovery clinicians so that all crime survivors have the support they need to heal.”
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