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2,120 hate incidents against Asian Americans reported during coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus-related racism seeps into U.S.
Coronavirus-related racism seeps into U.S. 04:32

More than 2,100 anti-Asian American hate incidents related to COVID-19 were reported across the country over a three-month time span between March and June, according to advocacy groups that compile the data. The incidents include physical attacks, verbal assaults, workplace discrimination and online harassment.   

The Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council and Chinese for Affirmative Action launched a hate incident reporting website on March 19 when the coronavirus was becoming widespread across the U.S. and the media began reporting violent incidents targeting Asian-Americans. The online tool is available in multiple languages and allows users to report the information with the promise that personal information will be kept confidential. On Wednesday, the advocacy groups released an analysis of the incidents reported through June 18 in California, where about 40 percent of the 2,120 hate incidents took place. The groups released the national data to CBS News after an inquiry.

Of the 832 incidents reported in California, many included anti-Asian slurs and references to China and the coronavirus. One assailant yelled about "bringing that Chinese virus over here" during an attack against an Asian-American man at a San Francisco hardware store on May 6. The assailant reportedly also said "Go back to China," "F---- you, Chinaman" and "F--- you, you monkey." In another San Francisco incident on June 9, someone threw a glass bottle at a woman putting her child in a car seat and yelled, "Go home Ch---k." And in Santa Clara on June 16, a man kicked a woman's dog and then spat at her, saying, "Take your disease that's ruining our country and go home."

"These are real people just living their lives and encountering this kind of hate," said Cynthia Choi, the co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, on Wednesday.

In California, the website marked 81 incidents of physical assaults and 64 incidents of potential civil rights violations including workplace discrimination, people being barred from establishments or being prevented from using transportation.  Of the 583 people who reported their gender, Asian-American women reported almost twice as many incidents of discrimination and harassment as men. About 11% of the people targeted were elderly.

The groups last month found that racist rhetoric including from President Donald Trump, who has referred to COVID-19 as the "Chinese virus" and "Kung-flu," correlates with incidents of racism against Asian-Americans. Some assailants have displayed virulent animosity of China and have parroted Mr. Trump's "Chinese virus" term, the groups found.

"[The data] indicates the racist rhetoric coming from the highest office in the land is creating a dangerous environment for Asian-Americans," Choi said.

While the analysis indicates the incidents are widespread and pervasive in California, they are likely only the "tip of the iceberg," with many more going unreported, said Russell Jeung, professor and chair of the Asian American Studies department at San Francisco State University. The advocacy groups have appealed to Governor Gavin Newsom to launch a state racial bias task force to assist state and federal agencies who enforce anti-discrimination and civil rights laws. They've also asked Newsom for state funding for the hate incident reporting website to expand its tracking efforts.

In a statement to CBS News, Newsom spokesperson Jesse Melgar said the office plans to continue dialogue with key stakeholders to combat anti-Asian American hate.

"Racism and xenophobia have no place in California – not during a public health emergency when it is essential we come together to support all of our communities – not ever," the statement said.

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