March Hate Report: Tracking COVID-19 Related Hate
We are undoubtedly in the midst of several crises caused by the Covid-19 pandemic — one of these includes the Trump Administration blaming China for the crisis by calling Covid-19 the “Chinese virus.” Since SAALT’s last report published on March 3, the nation has seen a drastic and dangerous increase in hate violence and rhetoric that targets and affects East and Southeast Asian Americans, and those racialized as East or Southeast Asian.
Prior to this period, we observed a peak in hate violence brought on by President Trump’s election in 2016, when government officials spewed xenophobic falsehoods and declared entire communities as threats, ultimately leading to the Muslim Ban. Once again, we see an entire community framed as a threat, leading to the the widespread Covid-19 related discrimination we have seen in recent months. This Administration’s pattern of criminalizing communities of color and later codifying this racism in policy is why we are on high alert.
Through tracking and analyzing hate violence data over the last 5 years, we’ve found that xenophobic rhetoric and policies lead to greater violence against targeted communities. We believe that rather than focusing solely on individual perpetrators of violence, government officials must be held publicly accountable for their actions. That’s why, in the face of this unprecedented crisis, we have made a commitment to expanding our documentation of hate violence to include all members of the Asian American diaspora. We’re teaming up with our allies at OCA, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Chinese for Affirmative Action and Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council, who have collectively documented nearly 1,000 incidents of coronavirus-related hate violence and xenophobia across the country. This month’s report from SAALT shares our findings thus far, providing a snapshot of the hate violence targeting East and Southeast Asian Americans, and those racialized as East or Southeast Asian.
Since January 1, 2020, SAALT has tracked 45 incidents of hate violence targeting Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander individuals and communities:
- On January 26th, Devin Cabanilla and her son “were told to ‘get away’ from the food samples” by a Costco employee “because he may be ‘from China’ and was worrying about getting infected.”
- On February 5th, a woman wearing a face mask was physically assaulted by an unknown man in New York, who also called her a “diseased b****.” The victim did not report the incident to the police.
- On February 11th, a Thai woman with the last name Jiraprapasuke was verbally abused on a train in Los Angeles, CA by an unknown man. The victim did not report the incident to the police.
- On February 13th, an Asian student was rushed “to a hospital emergency room after being phsyically assaulted due to coronavirus fears” in Los Angeles, CA. Reports of the attack have not yet been released, as it is still under investigation.
- On February 13th, a flyer was found in the Carson area of Los Angeles “with a fake seal of the World Health Organization, [telling] residents to avoid Asian-American businesses because of a coronavirus outbreak.” It is unknown who created and disseminated the flyers.
- On February 14th, Dylan Muriano “was sent to the nurse’s office at his middle school on Wednesday…he actually said to me, ‘All the other students who are coughing, they dont get sent out. But they’re not Asian.’” Muriano is a student in Los Angeles.
- On February 15th, two Hmong men named Kao Lor and Lee Lor were refused service in a Super 8 Motel in Plymouth, IN. The motel employee said that he had been told that “anyone from China has to be picked up and quarantined for two weeks” and “that it is company policy” — though neither Lor nor Lor are Chinese.
- On February 24th, an elderly Chinese man was robbed of his cart of cans by a group of men. The perpetrators recorded the assault on video, which features the cameraman cheering on the robbers while making “racially charged remarks.” The Bayview Police District Investigations team initiated an investigation, which the San Francisco Police Department later took over.
- In March, Dr. Edward Chew “was harassed by three men in their 20s, who then followed him into the parking lot“ while he was purchasing protective gear for his staff at a large Manhattan hospital.
- In a video posted on March 1st, a unknown perpetrator “can be seen throwing a bucket of water on an Asian man…near the intersection of Frederick Douglass Blvd. and West 154th Street in New York City”
- On March 4th, an Asian couple were physically assaulted by a group of juveniles on a subway platform in Philadelphia. The victims did not report the incident to the police, but the police are aware of the video that documents the assault.
- On March 5th, an Asian man was verbally assaulted by an unknown man on a train in Brooklyn, NY. The Asian man was then physically assaulted with air freshener, which the perpetrator sprayed at the victim. POlice are investigating the incident through their Hate Crimes Task Force.
- On March 8th, Li Qianyang was stabbed 13 times by an unknown man. Li Qianyang is in critical condition at the Lutheran Medical Center. Police, however, said that “there was ‘absolutely no nexus between the attack and the coronavirus’“.
- On March 9th, an Asian family’s car was vandalized in Fresno, CA with blue graffiti that said “f*ck Asians…and coronavirus.”
- On March 10th, two Chinese international students had “raw eggs thrown [at them] from a moving vehicle outside of Aquatic Fitness Center“ at UVA in Charlotteseville. There are “reasonable suspicisions of [the perpetrators’] intentions as it happened during such a sensitive time.”
- On March 10th, a 59 year old Asian man was verbally and physically assaulted by a teen in New York. The perpetrator shouted “f***ing Chinese coronavirus“ and “go back to your country“ before assaulting the victim, who refused hospital care. The NYPD Hate Crime Task Force is investigating the incident.
- On March 10th, a 23 year old Asian woman “was punched in the face in [New York City] by a man who was yelling, ‘Where is your corona mask, you Asian b****.’“ Police are investigating the case as a possible hate crime. “The victim was taken to Bellevue Hospital with a possible dislocated jaw“.
- On March 11th, an 8 year old Vietnamese boy was bullied by a classmate, at his school in Southern California, into thinking he had coronavirus and was going to die.
- On March 11th, “SB Dennis“ posted a video of himself walking up to a Chinese restaurant and ordering “baby back rat with a side of cats“.
- On March 11th, a Cambodian American man was verbally abused by an unknown man and called a “ch*nk“ multiple times at a 7/11 in Washington, DC. The victim, who wishes to be identified as Billy, is a member of the Board of Directors at the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership.
- On March 12th, Ro Nguyen was called “f***ing China“ and spat upon by an unknown man in Chicago, IL.
- On March 12th, classmates of Komeng Yang, a student in Wisconsin, bullied him, using flower pollen to force him to sneeze in order to “convince the bus driver to kick him off the bus“.
- On March 12th, Shuyuan Ye’s dorm room in Lobo Village was vandalized “in plastic… [with] a sign that said, ‘Caution, Keep Out, Quarantine’.” Ye is an international student from China studying at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
- On March 14th, Jose Gomez stabbed a Burmese American father and his two children in a Midland, TX Sam’s Club.
- On March 14th, Kathering Oung heard her classmates in Florida saying, “Everyone knows Chinese people are disgusting…they’ll eat any type of animal…they’re dirty.”
- On March 14th, Raoul Ramos shouted “Where the f*** is your mask?!“ to an Asian man and his 10 year old son in Queens, NY. Ramos followed the father and son to a bus stop, where he hit the father over the head. Ramos has been charged with aggravated assault and hate crimes.
- On March 16th, an Asian man shopping in a Target in Daly City, CA was verbally assaulted by two white shoppers who “yelled at him to walk away for coughing amid the 2019 novel coronavirus panic.” Target has declined to provide comments on the insight.
- On March 17th, Mimy Singviley’s Asian American business in Albuquerque, NM was vandalized by an unknown perpetrator. The grafitti said “trucha with the coronavirus.” The Albuquerque Police Department is investigating the incident and looking to see what charges could be filed.
- On March 17th, a 34 year old Asian woman was physically assaulted in New York by Lynn Ferguson, who yelled, “‘You’re the reason why the coronavirus is here!’…as she bumped the victim, then spat on her and pulled her hair.” Ferguson has been charged with assault as a hate crime and aggravated harassment as a hate crime.
- On March 18th, an Asian American restaurant in Washington, DC was vandalized with graffitti that said “trucha with the coronavirus“.
- On March 19th, Twitter user @mizCeeZee posted about an incident in which a FedEx driver “put in ‘Signed for by C.COVID’ after handing the package to [their] mother, who is Chinese American.”
- On March 19th, an Asian woman was robbed by an unknown man inside a Brooklyn train station; the perpetrator told the Asian woman, “Go back to China!“ and “Get your temperature checked, you need to leave.” This incident drove New York to create a hate crime hotline.
- On March 19th, Yuanyuan Zhu was “harassed and spit on by a stranger…Zhu had just been dropped off…when a man walking past her on the sidewalk shouted ‘f*** China’ while staring directly at her.” The incident was reported to the Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council.
- On March 20th, Union Jack Liquor Store in Denver, CO posted a sign that “showed the words ‘Thanks China’ and a number, which the owner of the store claims is the price for beer. In white supremacist groups, the number in question could represent the groups’ ideology and the term ‘Heil Hitler’ which means ‘Hail Hitler’.” The local police department took the sign down.
- On March 23rd, a Hong Kongese American driver was harassed in San Diego, CA by his three passengers with questions about Covid-19 once they learned that he was from Hong Kong.
- On March 24th, the Media Research Center (a conservative media outlet) published a letter that calls the virus the “Wuhan Coronavirus“ and accuses “Chinese-led hysteria [of roiling] markets and [disrupting] everyday life for Americans and citizens of other countries around the world.” The Southern Poverty Law Center names all the signatories, some of whom are elected Trump officials.
- On March 25th, an unknown perpetrator vandalized the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus with the words “It’s from China“ and “F*** the Chinese government“.
- On March 25th, Kathy Thao (a Hmong woman from Minnesota) was refused service from two delivery men “because they were convinced her son had Covid-19“.
- In late March, Mabel Menard was assaulted by a drunk man in an Old Town Tavern in Chicago, IL, who asked, “Do you have the corona?“
There has also been an increase in the political weaponization of xenophobic rhetoric within the United States from American officials, including the President himself. SAALT has recorded 5 incidents of xenophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric since February 17th, 2020.
- On February 17th, Senator Tom Cotton claimed that Covid-19 is a Chinese bioweapon.
- On March 4th, Assemblywoman Mathylde Frontus’s receptionist, Mailyn Franks, falsely posted on Facebook, “urging citizens to stay away from Chinese supermarkets, shops, fast food outlets, restaurants, and businesses.” She was later fired.
- On March 4th, Alma Arredondo-Lynch (of the Texas Republican Party and the 23rd Congressional district) made remarks that suggested “that spraying the nation with pigs’ blood would keep Muslims out of the United States.”
- On March 9th, GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy posted a tweet that called the coronavirus “Chinese“.
- On March 17th, a White House official called the coronavirus the “kung flu“.
- On March 17th, President Trump called the coronavirus the “Chinese virus”.
Since March 1st, 2020, SAALT has tracked 6 incidents of hate violence targeting Muslims and those racialized as Muslim:
- On March 2nd, Chief Ibrahim “Mike“ Baycora received “threatening text messages” from Stefan Keco of Clifton NJ. The messages were sent with the purpose of intimidating the Chief and his religion, race, and national origin. Keco was charged by the Passaic County and Paterson police later that week.
- On March 4th, an unknown person threatened the construction of a “60-seat mosque in Harford County” by posting “on social media to ‘burn it the [expletive] down’ if it is built. Another bigoted post declared ‘Death to Allah’…and encouraged people to bring their weapons to protest, playing into tired Islamic terrorist tropes.” It is unsure whether the mosque will continue its construction.
- On March 6th, an unknown perpetrator vandalized a mosque in Minneapolis, Minnesota with the words “f*** Allah”. Police are investigating it as a hate crime.
- On March 6th, an Afghan refugee family was attacked in their new home city of San Diego, California by Robert Anthony Compton. Compton told the family, “Go back to where you came from, I hate you,” before punching the father of the family.
- On March 13th, Heather Meisel was arrested for throwing a Molotov Cocktail at the Islamic Center in Halethorpe. She is charged with attempted murder, among others.
- On March 26th, Scott Kenneth Alexander was arrested for illegally detaining (or kidnapping) a Middle Eastern man “because he believed the victim was going to do an act of terrorism.” The police are considering charging Alexander with hate crimes.
This uptick in violence is occurring against a backdrop of ongoing state violence impacting all communities of color in the U.S. Just as we saw post-9/11 — and again during and after the 2016 Presidential election — an increase in racist rhetoric and policies from government officials increases violence against our communities through forms of racial profiling, surveillance, detention, and mass incarceration. We must use this time to not only protect our communities from immediate harm, but also to fight against these systems and structures that sanction and perpetuate hate violence.
In the midst of this unprecedented moment, SAALT and our allies are working to examine our own hate reporting practices and assess how best to strengthen our communities’ ability to respond by building a more inclusive infrastructure. SAALT is committed to working with our partners to focus on how best to advocate for and support survivors of hate violence on their own terms.
Inclusive of the incidents in this monthly summary, SAALT and our partners have tracked 310 incidents of xenophobic or Islamophobic rhetoric, and 612 incidents of hate violence victimizing Muslims and Asian Americans, and those perceived as Muslim or Asian American, since 2015.