The Anti-Defamation League reported this month that reports of xenophobic and racist incidents targeting members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities are surging in Northern California cities and across the nation since the COVID-19 outbreak began, including reports of victims being threatened and harassed in the street.
The organization that tracks hate crimes said victims have been blamed for "bringing the virus" to the United States, told to "Go Back to China," and have been spat on, physically assaulted and called racial slurs.
"Statements by public officials referring to COVID-19 as the ‘Chinese virus,’ ‘Kung Flu’ or ‘Wu Flu’ may be exacerbating the scapegoating and targeting of the AAPI community," the ADL reported May 4. "Meanwhile, extremists continue to spread antisemitic and xenophobic conspiracies about COVID-19, blaming Jews and China for creating, spreading and profiting off the virus."
The ADL created a list of about 100 incidents targeting Asians from media reports across the country. The incidents included Asians ordered to get off trains, shouted down with obscenities, and businesses hit with anti-Asian graffiti.
The list included these Northern California incidents:
April 22: In San Jose, five Asian-owned businesses were vandalized.
April 19: In San Francisco, an Asian American woman was harassed while walking her dogs. She was told to "Go back to whatever (expletive) country you came from" and that "nasty people should stay in (expletive) Asia."
March 24: In San Francisco, a man yelled at a Filipino-American man, using a derogatory term for Asians.
March 16: In Daly City, shoppers harassed an Asian man who coughed in a Target store.
March 9: In San Francisco, a woman told reporters that a man harassed her as she walked to a gym. He shouted obscenities about China and encouraged a passing bus to "run them over." He then spat at her.
Feb. 22: In San Francisco, an incident caught on camera showed people physically assaulting an elderly Asian man who was collecting recyclables near a housing project. One person said, "I hate Asians."
In response to the growing trend, San Francisco State University's Asian American Studies department, along with the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council (A3PCON) and Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), started a center to collect and track incidents of anti-Asian American and Pacific islander hate violence.
Victims can share stories at www.a3pcon.org/stopaapihate.
“First and foremost, we want community members to know they are not alone,” Cynthia Choi, co-executive director of CAA, said in a statement. "They can speak out and help stop the spread of bigotry. Secondly, the collected data will allow us to assess the extent and magnitude of these incidents and to develop strategic interventions."
Russell Jeung, chairman of San Francisco State's Asian American Studies department, said elected officials, including President Trump, who labeled COVID-19 as the "Chinese Virus," fueled xenophobia.
"In our research on news articles, we see that following inflammatory comments, there’s an increase of racist incidents against Asian Americans," Jeung said in a statement. "Clearly, with such political framing, Asians of different ethnicities are being racially profiled as a foreign threat.”