WASHINGTON – The FBI is warning of an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread. They say they’re anticipating a surge of incidents across the nation, though, in many states, including California, we’re already seeing a rise in hate crimes.
Democratic lawmakers have just sent a letter to President Trump, asking him to denounce how he called the coronavirus the “Chinese virus,” citing how the World Health Organization has asked everyone to use the official name of coronavirus or COVID-19 saying, stigma is the enemy of public health.
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The nation has seen an uptick in hate crimes, from a woman in New York brutally attacked in a Chinatown subway, to a family stabbed in Texas, to a teenage boy in California assaulted at school by peers who claimed he had the virus.
Representative Judy Chu, of Pasadena, who is the Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American caucus has been working to address the issue since the attacks started.
“It started in January with dirty looks and misinformation that Asian American restaurants and businesses were more likely to have the disease and should be avoided,” Chu said. “But in this last month it escalated to spitting, yelling, and physical attacks against Asian Americans. Here in my area, a poster for the movie Mulan near my office was defaced with anti-Asian messages."
"Actor Tzi Ma was simply getting food at the public Whole Foods when a man yelled out to him that he should be quarantined," Chu continued. "A Thai woman from my district was riding the Gold Line when she was verbally assaulted by a man in a 15-minute Thai raid, calling all Chinese people disgusting.”
Chu said has been working with her caucus members, like Representative Gil Cisneros of Fullerton, to hold meetings and discuss how to mitigate any harm the Asian American communities may see or be seeing already.
They both tell me, they hope the president will read and adhere to their letter in order to prevent any more attacks.
“This week with my colleagues I sent a letter to the president,” Cisneros said. “Asking him to join us in denouncing anti-Asian violence and discrimination due to COVID-19. The president should not be using any words to tying this virus to any ethnic group, words matter.”
Last week, Cisneros introduced a resolution that officially denounced the anti-Asian sentiment caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus. He hopes the letter to the president encourages President Trump to take back his words, but the president has said to reporters, that the term “Chinese virus” is “not racist” and that he was simply making sure it’s known where the virus came from.
In the lawmaker’s letter to the president, it goes on to say, the federal government should increase access to resources for those communities as ignorance has caused significant financial decline for Asian establishments and Chinatowns across the nation.
They’re also calling on the president to work with the FBI and DOJ to investigate hate crimes against the Asian American communities as quickly as possible, in hopes of bringing justice but also deterring others from doing the same.
Officials urge you to report any attacks. The Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council has also launched a report form online in different languages.