Hate crimes against Asia in Los Angeles County increased 76% last year, reflecting an alarming trend in many other jurisdictions as physical and verbal attacks on Asian Americans increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the 44 anti-Asian hate crimes reported in Los Angeles County in 2020, more than three quarters were linked to physical abuse – a notable increase from 58% in 2018, according to a Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission report released on Wednesday.
There were 25 reported hate crimes against Asia in 2019.
The data in the report was collected from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and more than 40 city police departments, including Los Angeles, as well as several school police agencies and community organizations.
The number of reported hate crimes is generally considered unreliable because victims may be reluctant to report them.
However, sudden spikes in events are significant, and officials must work to find out the root causes, experts say.
Many point to the racial rhetoric of then President Trump, highlighting the Chinese origin of the coronavirus, as a trigger for some anti-Asian attacks.
“It didn’t help what the former president repeatedly called COVID-19“ chinavirus ”and“ kung flu, ”said Montagno, president of the Human Relations Commission of Guadeloupe.
In 10 of Los Angeles County’s 44 anti-Asian crimes, the suspect directly blamed the victims for COVID-19, the report said.
In one hate crime mentioned in the report, a Chinese man was waiting at a bus stop when a white woman started shouting, “Go back where you came from, you bloody Chinese!” before crossing the street and hitting the man three times in the face.
On another occasion, a Japanese man was talking on a cell phone in a pharmacy parking lot when a Hispanic man with a large knife asked if he was Asian. According to the report, the suspect ordered the man to take off his sunglasses to open his eyes before attempting to stab him. The suspect has been detained.
The state’s attorney general found that Asian hate crimes more than doubled in California last year, with assault and intimidation being the most common crimes.
After a series of violent attacks on elderly Asian Americans across the country, volunteers formed foot patrols in Auckland’s Chinatown and other Asian neighborhoods.
A study from 16 jurisdictions across the country found that reports of hate crimes against Asia increased 164% in the first quarter of 2021 over the same period last year.
According to a study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino, New York saw the highest growth, at 223%, followed by 140% in San Francisco, 80% in Los Angeles and 60% in Boston.
Reports from Stop AAPI Hate, a group tracking anti-Asian attacks, showed the extent of anti-Asian racism across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of the victims were elderly people, others were children. Some were coughed or spat, some were spanked or beaten, some were denied service in factories, and others were stung by racist statements or people who refused to communicate with them.
Stop Hate AAPI not only tracks hate crimes, but also hate incidents that do not reach the level of crime and are usually associated with name names or insults.
In Los Angeles County, the number of Asian American female hate crime victims tripled from five last year to 15, the report said Wednesday.
In 2019, none of the victims of hate crimes in Asia were over 40 years old. In 2020, half of them were over 40, including two seniors.
In cases where the culprit was identified, 42% were white, 36% Hispanic and 19% black.
Forty-five percent of anti-Asian hate crimes occurred in Los Angeles, with a significant proportion in the South Bay.
The County Public Affairs Commission collects reports of possible incidents of hate at 211 and on its website. Since its launch in June 2020, about 1,400 reports have been received.
Phyllis Gerstenfeld, head of the criminal justice division at Cal State Stanislaus, said there are no proven strategies to tackle hate crimes.
Strengthening ties between law enforcement and communities increases the likelihood of victims reporting hate crimes, she said.
“We must constantly evaluate what we are doing and not think that the adoption of this or that regulation or the appearance of any signs will solve the problem,” said Gerstenfeld.