On January 15th, 2022, 40-year-old Michelle Alyssa Go was pushed onto an incoming subway in New York by Simon Martial, a homeless man. He is currently being charged with second-degree murder, but many are pushing this to be considered a hate crime.
New York City (NYC), a hot spot for anti-Asian hate crimes, has seen a jump from 275 incidents in 2020 to over 500 in 2021. Former NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) during his campaign announcement stated, "The absence of the negative racist voice of Donald Trump in our daily discourse is beginning the process of healing, but the residue, as you indicated, the residue of that state-sponsored hatred is still very strong."
Nationwide, anti-Asian hate crimes have increased by 77% from 2019 to 2020, according to the 2020 FBI Hate Crime Statistics. Preeminent US cities such as NYC and San Francisco have seen hate crimes grow exponentially. Unfortunately, this hate seems to stem from misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Innocent Asian Americans all over the country are fearing for their lives due to false narratives spread by social media and those in positions of power. Specifically, rhetoric is a significant contributor when discussing the increase in hate crimes. Former President Donald Trump was infamous for using terms such as the "China Virus" or "Kung Flu" to emphasize blame on China, where the virus is believed to have originated from. These terms helped further racist Americans to spiral and blame Chinese and other Asian immigrants for COVID-19 and mocking them instead of promoting facts on the virus and how to protect communities.
In May 2021, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act was signed, recognizing how under-reported hate crimes are. The act also brought attention to the language barriers that prevent many individuals from seeking help. President Joe Biden stated in his speech, "My message to all of those of you who are hurting is: We see you. Furthermore, Congress has said: We see you. And we are committed to stopping the hatred and the bias." This statement was in response to the heightened rates of mental stress brought onto Asian Americans. According to Stop AAPI Hate's 2021 mental health report, Asian Americans who have experienced racism are more stressed by anti-Asian hate than the pandemic. This added stress contributes to a prevalence of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Proper education on COVID-19 is vital when trying to prevent hate crimes against Asian Americans. Knowing where it originated from, how to stop the spread, and mortality rates give individuals a better understanding of the pandemic instead of treating it as a joke or conspiracy. Resources such as the CDC and We Can Do This, offer factual information about COVID-19. Websites and social media like Facebook have been known to spread misinformation about the pandemic.
Resources to report hate crimes to organizations such as Stop AAPI Hate strive to stand up against racism. The United States Department of Justice offers valuable information in over a dozen languages, such as step-by-step instructions on the proper way to report hate crimes. It also includes valuable information such as statistics, state-specific information, and prevention awareness.
Another attack took place in November 2021 on Than Than Htwe, a 58-year-old mother whom her 22-year-old son accompanied. David Robertson (52) was charged with 1st-degree murder. Similar to Go's case, the law did not recognize this as a hate crime.
The current push to have these types of attacks categorized as hate crimes aims to not only bring awareness but also to show that this is an ongoing, nationwide problem.