In California, anti-Asian hate crimes increase 107% in 2020 – Times-Herald

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Anti-Asian hate crimes rose 107% in California in 2020, an explosion fueled by incidents in March and April during the first two months of the coronavirus pandemic which lasted until 2021, the prosecutor said on Wednesday. General of the State, Rob Bonta.

At a press conference in the Chinatown section of Oakland with Oakland City Council member Sheng Thao and Chinatown Chamber of Commerce president Carl Chan, Bonta unveiled new data and directions for the public and law enforcement. He said the hope is to better understand the hatred that 2020 has generated against American communities in the islands of Asia and the Pacific in order to stop it.

He called the epidemic an “epidemic of hate”.

“The facts here are clear,” Bonta said. “There was a wave of anti-Asian violence correlated with the words of leaders who sought to divide us when we were the most vulnerable. “

The number of hate crimes against Asians in California has increased from 43 in 2019 to 89 in 2020, according to the state.

To counter this, Bonta unveiled a special report on anti-Asian hate crimes, as well as a report on 2020 hate crimes reported statewide. He also gave law enforcement and prosecutors recommendations to follow when investigating these crimes, and gave victims an updated list of options they can follow to get help.

The guidelines are based on restorative justice, which emphasizes education and commonalities to achieve a solution, rather than strict incarceration.

“We are truly grateful for Attorney General Bonta’s leadership on this issue,” said Russell Jeung, who in 2020 launched “Stop AAPI Hate,” a project that followed discrimination related to COVID-19. “We are especially grateful for his approach. We appreciate that he is seeking restorative justice. We want to educate people and develop more empathy.

A statewide poll released in May found that 73% of Asian American respondents fear physical assault from strangers because of their race, overtaking black and Latino residents by percentages two digits.

Most anti-Asian incidents are not classified as hate crimes. STOP AAPI Hate collected reports on 6,600 anti-Asian incidents between March 2020 and March 2021. They include: The 8th grade Concord student who was “teased and humiliated” by students who called her “kung flu, ”a racist term for the coronavirus popularized by former President Donald Trump. Someone walking down the street in San Francisco who was approached by a man who shouted “Go back to your country” before spitting in the victim’s face. And in San Jose, a resident reported that a convenience store near his home was tagged with an anti-Asian American message and a curse.

Education is key, community leaders said, as they aim to tackle the underlying racism that fuels attacks and the bar for prosecuting hate crimes is often too high to be a long-term deterrent.

“We cannot prosecute a crime before it happens,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Paul Jhin said earlier this month. Jhin, who co-founded the National Association of Asian and Pacific Island Prosecutors. “It has to start at the community level. We have to stand up for ourselves and each other. “

Community leaders say the need for more restorative justice is illustrated in a report by the nonprofit Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change, which found that 42% of the nearly 2,800 Americans surveyed could not name a prominent Asian American.

Almost a quarter of white respondents to the same survey said anti-Asian racism is not a problem in the country.

“It shows how invisible we are, how unappreciated we are,” Jhin said. “That’s why education is the thing.”

Bonta also said his office had offered to invest $ 100 million from the state budget in supporting survivors and an additional $ 200 million in improving community response.

“We are in the midst of a racial justice calculation in this country,” Bonta said.

Bonta said overall hate crimes increased by 31% in 2020, from 1,015 incidents in 2019 to 1,330 in 2020. Anti-black hate crimes have increased 87% and anti-white crimes have passed. from 39 incidents in 2019 to 82 in 2020. Anti-Jewish hate crimes and hate crimes involving sexual orientation actually decreased by 13.5% and 12%, respectively.

Yet it was the attack on the AAPI community last year that stood out the most, and Bonta said these crimes, like many other hate crimes, were underreported.

“I would say the racism was actually removed, because we were in quarantine during the year and we weren’t interacting as much,” Jeung said. “I think that’s why you are seeing a continuous increase now. You see more face to face contact with people.

Bonta said he has updated state brochures in 25 languages ​​to help victims report hate crimes and access direct help. Among the guidelines from the brochure that Bonta highlighted as important were these:

  • Call 911 if you feel you are in immediate danger
  • See a doctor, if necessary, and write down the exact words that were used in an attack, as well as any other relevant facts.
  • Record evidence and take photos if it is safe to do so
  • Get the contact details of any witnesses or other victims
  • Contact community organizations that deal with hate crimes.

“If you are a victim, please come forward,” Chan said. “There are solutions. Please don’t be afraid. We are here together. Together we can stop this.

Bonta’s new guidelines also urge law enforcement and prosecutors to properly identify hate crimes; ensure that the application of hate crime laws is consistent and uniform; establish more immediate and consistent contact with victims; and identify other forms of punishment or restorative justice in hate crime prosecutions.

“We are in a state of total crisis when it comes to hate crimes,” Bonta said. “What we do in the future will be dictated by the challenges we face and what Californians need.”

Editors Robert Salonga and Leo Castaneda contributed to this story.

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