In California, and nationwide hate crimes against Asian Americans have skyrocketed due to previous propaganda surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. President Joe Biden has condemned the rhetoric used by the former president Donald Trump, yet activists encourage more condemnation.
By Annika Henthorn
On January 28, Vichar Ratanapakdee, an 84 year-old immigrant from Thailand, was on his regular morning walk through San Francisco when he was brutally shoved to the ground. Suffering a brain hemorrhage from the incident, he never regained consciousness, according to CNN. A 19-year old man was arrested as a suspect of his murder as well as elder abuse. Ratanapakdee’s family strongly believes this was not simply an attack on the elderly, but a hate crime. The spike in violence directed against Asian Americans has continued to rise since the pandemic began. According to Eric Lawson, Ratanapakdee’s son-in-law, he too believes this act was no different and “driven by hate.”
Others who identify as Asian-Americans have shared their experience with this festering issue rooted in racism. Residing in Medford, Oregon, Charlie Garland, self-identified as Korean American, recounted a sign outside a bar in his hometown that read “China Virus hours.” He said he has “always been very uncomfortable with people referring to [the pandemic] that way — just because basically putting blame on somebody who has no hand in that whatsoever,” according to PBS. Some people in his own town would shout racial slurs at Garland, causing him to feel uncomfortable and unsafe in his own community. Based on these occurrences, Garland has attributed people’s comfortability with saying such hateful things to Trump, and having “somebody in office who was doing that and making it a normal thing to be heard.”
This anti-Asian narrative plaguing America was propelled through Trump’s rhetoric of calling COVID-19 the “China Virus.” Over 2,800 first-hand cases of hate crime in over 47 states and Washington DC have been reported since March 19, according to CNN. Noticing "the rapid increase in criminal acts targeted against members of the Asian community, particularly Chinese Americans, who live and work in Alameda County,"Alameda District Attorney, Nancy O’ Malley designed a special response unit that targets crimes against Asian-Americans.
President Joe Biden has condemned this hateful narrative with an official memorandum, according to PBS. He addresses the danger that such hateful rhetoric perpetuates, contributing to the“increasing rates of bullying, harassment and hate crimes against AAPI persons,” says President Biden. However, many activists believe that although this is a step in the right direction, more action needs to follow in the form of legislation, protest, and conversations, the memo was simply a jumping off point.
If you have been harassed or discriminated against, call 911 if you’re in immediate danger, or access the provided links below to report the incident.
Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council - https://stopaapihate.typeform.com/to/zhMP3fUx
Communities Against Hate - https://communitiesagainsthate.org/report
Melanie Moyer '22,