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US President Joe Biden signs Anti-Asian Attacks law

US President Joe Biden has signed a law that aims to address a rising number of anti-Asian attacks. What’s behind the hatred?

An elderly Thai immigrant dies after being shoved to the ground. A Filipino-American is slashed in the face with a box cutter. A Chinese woman is slapped and then set on fire. Eight people are killed in a shooting rampage across three Asian spas in one night.

These are just examples of recent violent attacks on Asian Americans, part of a surge in abuse since the start of the pandemic a year ago.

From being spat on and verbally harassed to incidents of physical assault, there have been thousands of reported cases in recent months.

Advocates and activists say these are hate crimes, and often linked to rhetoric that blames Asian people for the spread of Covid-19.

The FBI warned at the start of the Covid outbreak in the US that it expected a surge in hate crimes against those of Asian descent.

Federal hate crime data for 2020 has not yet been released, though hate crimes in 2019 were at their highest level in over a decade.

Late last year, the United Nations issued a report that detailed “an alarming level” of racially motivated violence and other hate incidents against Asian Americans.

It is difficult to determine exact numbers for such crimes and instances of discrimination, as no organisations or governmental agencies have been tracking the issue long-term, and reporting standards can vary region to region.

The advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate said it received more than 2,800 reports of hate incidents directed at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders nationwide last year. The group set up its online self-reporting tool at the start of the pandemic.

Local law enforcement is taking notice too: the New York City hate crimes task force investigated 27 incidents in 2020, a nine fold increase from the previous year. In Oakland, California, police have added patrols and set up a command post in Chinatown.

Celebrities and influencers have spoken out after several disturbing incidents went viral on social media.

Here are some of the recently reported attacks:

An 84-year-old Thai immigrant in San Francisco, California, died in February after being violently shoved to the ground during his morning walk
In Oakland, California, a 91-year-old senior was shoved to the pavement from behind
An 89-year-old Chinese woman was slapped and set on fire by two people in Brooklyn, New York
Two Asian American women were stabbed at a San Francisco bus stop; eyewitness reports say the assailant “casually walked away in broad daylight”
An Asian man walking with his 1-year-old child in a stroller in San Francisco was punched in the head and back multiple times
A stranger on the New York subway slashed a 61-year-old Filipino American passenger’s face with a box cutter
An Asian American woman in New York City was struck in the head with a hammer by an unidentified assailant who demanded that she remove her mask
Asian American restaurant employees in New York City told the New York Times they now always go home early for fear of violence and harassment
An Asian American butcher shop owner in Sacramento, California found a dead cat – likely intended for her – left in the store’s parking lot; police are investigating it as a hate crime
An Asian American family celebrating a birthday at a restaurant in Carmel, California, was berated with racist slurs by a Trump-supporting tech executive
Several Asian Americans home owners say they’ve been abused with racial slurs and had rocks thrown at their houses
The only Asian American lawmaker in the Kansas legislature says he was physically threatened in a bar by a patron who accused him of carrying the coronavirus
New York police arrested a man who assaulted a woman during a protest against anti-Asian racism
A grieving family received a hateful letter on the day of their father’s funeral, telling them to “pack your bags and go back to your country where you belong”
A school board candidate of Vietnamese descent in Portland, Oregon, found a note with the words “Kung Flu” on her doorstep
A medical worker of Filipino descent in Los Gatos, California was shoved to the ground from behind by an assailant who told her to “go back to [expletive] China”
A Thai woman was brutally beaten and robbed of her phone while commuting on a train in San Francisco
Over six million Asian Americans live in California, according to the latest population estimates, by far the most in any US state.

They make up more than 15% of residents in the state.


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