While there have been virtually no convictions for perpetrators of anti-Asian American hate, more arrests have been made and charges continue to be filed against those who target the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. The hope that those committing these crimes will pay the consequences remains as local authorities are slowly stepping up. A New York man was indicted on several felony charges, including second-degree murder as a hate crime, in connection to an incident from March, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday. The man, identified as 42-year-old Tammel Esco, was arrested in March after brutally attacking a woman in the lobby of her apartment building.
According to police, Esco not only used derogatory language against the woman, including calling her an “Asian bitch,” but also followed her into her building. Having been caught on surveillance footage, the attack quickly made headlines when video surfaced depicting Esco punching the victim’s head and face more than 125 times, Daily Kos reported.
In addition to punching her, Esco stomped on her body seven times and spat on her as she lay helpless on the floor, prosecutors said. The victim suffered brain bleeding, multiple facial fractures, bruising, and lacerations to her head and face in an incident the Yonkers police commissioner described as one of the most appalling assaults he had ever seen.
The same day the indictment was announced, another Asian-targeted hate crime occurred in New York. A 76-year-old woman was punched in the back of the head by a man who yelled anti-Asian hate at her Wednesday morning, cops said.
According to police officials, the man identified as 52-year-old Tiffany Felder, yelled “I hate Koreans!” before attacking the victim. He was charged with one count of assault as a hate crime, assault injuring a victim 65 or older, and harassment.
Despite the increasing awareness against bias crimes, Stop AAPI Hate documented over 11,400 self-reported anti-AAPI hate incidents, according to its latest report released Wednesday. A majority of these incidents occurred in places of public transport.
As a result, the authors of the report have urged public officials to extend civil rights protections to encompass incidents that occur on public transit and in businesses, expand ethnic studies courses on Asian American history, and “invest in community-based programs to support the healing of victims and survivors, and to prevent violence before it starts.”
“Even as people move on past the COVID-19 pandemic, AAPIs continue to be harassed because of their race,” Manjusha Kulkarni, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate and executive director of AAPI Equity Alliance, said in a statement. “The AAPI community is tired of being afraid. We want solutions that actually make a difference and focus on prevention.”
But advocates and experts aren’t the only ones responding to the numerous reports of increasing violence against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the rapid rise of violence against the AAPI community has mobilized a new generation of activists who are not only set on creating awareness but founding organizations and running for office to ensure change.
“Despite the long history of Asian American resistance against structural racism and other dimensions of oppression, it seems that people rarely know about Asian American activism,” said Diane Fujino, a professor of Asian American studies at UC Santa Barbara. “It is largely unseen because of the myth that Asian Americans are a successful minority group focused only on education and business.”
While Asian Americans have been involved in activism for years, the type of activism has changed, with many using the surge in bias crimes as fuel to advocate for change, including advocating for mental health services and more representation in office.