Asian American communities being targeted by hate crime, unprovoked attacks during pandemic

Asian American communities across the country are seeing more unprovoked and violent attacks during the pandemic.

A man was arrested for a series of random attacks on Asian Americans in the Chinatown neighborhood in Oakland, California, including the attack of a 91-year-old elderly man that was captured on surveillance video.

Authorities said the elderly man was shoved to the ground by 28-year-old Yahya Muslim. Muslim is facing charges of assault and great bodily injury. 

Nearly 3,000 cases targeting Asian Americans have been reported nationwide since the start of the pandemic.

"What's happening now in Oakland, in New York and other parts of the country is just echoing what was happening last year and what's even worse now is seniors being targeted," said Telly Wong, the Campaign Director for Wash The Hate social media campaign.

Wong helped launch the Wash The Hate campaign in March after a surge in incidents.

"Wash The Hate was to really generate greater awareness about the violence being perpetrated against members of the Asian American community as a result of COVID-19. A lot of crimes, and especially hate crimes within this community, are underreported or misreported and we just wanted to start creating more dialogue out there about this issue," he said.

Wong said the Asian American community has been facing racism for years before the pandemic.

"When these hate crimes were happening last year, there seemed to be a lack of understanding that Asian Americans have been here for over 100 years. There's been historical racism directed towards them and for many people they were like this is the first time your community is experiencing racism and we're like no, that's definitely not the case," he said.

A woman in Brentwood posted a video to social media, urging people to share an incident involving a maskless man in the neighborhood who went on an unprovoked racist rant. In the video, he calls the Asian woman recording the video "a stupid, blue-haired Asian girl" and hurled curse words at her too as she was trying to get away from him.

Actor, Daniel Wu, also spoke up about the surge in violence in an interview with TMZ. Wu said he was "appalled" at the Chinatown attacks, and the attack against the 91-year-old man, saying his father is also 91 years old. 

"We're getting a one-two punch and it's been going on for months and months and months now," he said.

With the start of the Chinese New Year Friday, Wu said there are concerns.

"Everyone's scared. If you go to Chinatown, there's not many people on the streets because they know and they've been living under this fear for months. The past year, there's been a lot of hate crimes against the Asian American community," he said.

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Wu believes former President Trump's rhetoric contributed to the violence.

"The xenophobia caused by Trump's rhetoric calling it the China virus and kung flu has created animosity against Asian Americans," he said.

Advocates believe there needs to be more dialogue and awareness.

"We just need to come together as a community, not just the Asian community, but everyone to address these issues. There's a huge divide in our country between communities, between people, political affiliations, we just need to start learning more about one another and have a conversation," said Wong.

Those interested in learning more about Wash the Hate can click here.

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