Significant increases occurred in the country’s largest cities and counties
As 2021 approaches the halfway mark, more statistics on anti-Asian hate crimes and hate incidents are being released, highlighting the scope and toll of these alarming attacks.
A new study by the Center for the Study of Hate in Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino released on Saturday, May 1 — the first day of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month — found that in 16 of the largest and most-populated cities and counties in the country, hate crimes against the Asian American community rose from 36 reported crimes to 95 reported crimes, a 164% overall increase.
The crime statistics from 2021’s first quarter were compared to that of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic first forced governments to shut down and pandemic-related anti-Asian hate racism and attacks were beginning to percolate across the country.
New York City — of which the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community comprises about 15% of the city’s population — saw the most dramatic increase from 13 reported crimes in the first quarter of 2020 to 42 in 2021, a 223% increase. San Francisco experienced a 145% increase, 5 to 12; the city is about 35% AAPI, according to the 2018 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
Los Angeles — where AAPIs comprise 12% of the city’s population — saw an 80% increase (5 to 9) and Boston — a population with 10% AAPI — saw a 60% increase (5 to 8).
It’s important to note that these statistics only account for attacks that have been reported to police and authorities. Generally crimes against the AAPI community go underreported, according to the CSUSB study, which utilized data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).
“While BJS most recent data indicates a slight majority of victims now report, it is likely that there is massive underreporting of hate crime in [Asian American] communities,” the study read. “Research by BJS and others found communities with language and cultural barriers, attenuated relations with law enforcement, along with those who fear retaliation, have far higher levels of underreporting.”
As previously reported in the Asian Journal, the rise in anti-Asian attacks sparked a nationwide movement to address anti-Asian behaviors, attitudes, harassment and violence. Famously, the STOP AAPI Hate crime tracker reported 3,795 hate incidents across the country from March 19, 2020 to Feb. 28, 2021.
Professor Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at CSUSB who co-authored the first quarter report, told CBS News last week that the rise in reported incidents may be attributed to more awareness of the issue. Levin added that this current wave of anti-Asian hate crimes is a major “phenomenon in the Asian American community that is of historic significance.”
The Senate passed an anti-Asian hate bill that expands the federal government’s ability to address and respond to rises in hate crimes, as the Asian Journal previously reported.
That bill — which was introduced by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and passed 94-1 — would establish a delegate at the Justice Department who would be responsible for reviewing reported incidents, help with the reporting process and provide grants for public education campaigns dedicated to combating hate crimes.
The bill is on its way to the House, and President Joe Biden has expressed his support for the bill and plans to sign it if it is approved by the House.