Crimes against Asian Americans continue to rise one year into COVID-19 pandemic

There has been a troubling increase in crimes targeting Asian Americans across the United States. Associated Press race and ethnicity reporter Terry Tang joined CBSN to discuss how victims are dealing with their trauma and why it's important to include people of Asian heritage when discussing racial movements in the U.S.

Video Transcript

- It has been one year since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US. And crimes against Asian-Americans are continuing to rise. According to the advocacy group Stop Asian-American Pacific Islander Hate, nearly 3,000 incidents have been reported since 2020.

In places like New York City, the number of incidents against Asians rose from 3 to 27. Some are struggling to recover from the attacks both physically and emotionally. Others are calling for an end to the rise of racism.

With me now for more on this is Associated Press Race and Ethnicity Reporter Terry Tang. Hi, Terry, great to have you with us. You have reported and highlighted-- so great.

You have reported and highlighted the experiences of several Asian-Americans in your article. How are the victims of these attacks dealing with the trauma even one year later? And how do their experiences give us insight into the suffering of the Asian-American community?

TERRY TANG: Well, a lot of the victims-- even the ones that were victims of verbal harassment-- they feel that a lot of the initial support has sort of faded now that it's been a year later. And it's really hard to maintain that. And when they have children, it especially still traumatizes them.

And probably the person who's an example where someone has suffered so much is Bawi Cung, the Midland, Texas father who was stabbed in March last year inside a Sam's Club. And not just him, but his two young sons were stabbed.

And even now all this time later, he seems fine. But every time they go into a store, he has to look around over his shoulder. And his older son, who's six, still can't sleep alone and probably will have to have another surgery around his eye.

- That was an absolutely horrific-- horrific crime. Reading about that just sends chills down any person's spine. You point out that so many of these crimes, though, do go unreported or somehow don't rise to hate crime charges. Why are some of these crimes not counted as hate crimes? And does that impact a victim's decision when trying to decide whether or not to report a crime?

TERRY TANG: I think in a lot of cases, it's really hard to prove that the suspect's intent was racial, especially if nothing is captured on film. And I know for some people, they didn't bother to report it because they also figured I'm not going to be a priority for the police. My business is not going to be a priority for the police. But I think that might be changing now with a younger Asian-American activist trying to impart on others the importance of accountability.

- And several major organizations are donating to Asian-American advocacy groups. California Governor Newsom also signed legislation funding STOP AAPI hate and the UCLA Asian-American Study Center. Are donations like these enough to help stop the rise in crimes?

And what are some of the suggested solutions from some of the people you spoke with? Because it's my understanding that it's not just about legislation and stopping crimes. It's also about a larger perception, right? It's about the way some Americans see immigrants in general.

TERRY TANG: Yeah, so a lot of advocates in the Asian-American community-- they think that policing or more prosecution is not necessarily the only answer. Really, it just seems that the COVID-19-fueled racism has really more reopened racism that really goes back over 150 years of anti-Chinese, anti-immigrant, anti-Asian prejudice.

So they believe that education is really the key to trying to root out these biases and perceptions that Asians are not American. So they would like to see monetary resources go towards things like that and just resources for the people in the community as well.

- Very, very important. Yeah, there was one subject in your article, like, believe was quoted as saying a lot of people think now that President Trump is not in office anymore that the problem has just gone away. But that's not the case.

TERRY TANG: Yes, I think there was a lot of feeling among people-- some Asian-Americans even that maybe with a new president who would not use terms like "Chinese virus" or "kung flu" and even went beyond that and issued an executive order denouncing that language that these kinds of crimes wouldn't completely go away but at least go down.

But that has not been the case at all. It seems like every other day, there is reports of some new random violent crime in cities where there are large Asian-American communities.

- And so do you believe when we're having these sort of larger discussions as a country about racial reckonings that include, you know, the Black Lives Matter movement-- do you think that we should more often include Asian-Americans in those discussions? How would you recommend we do that?

TERRY TANG: I think we're really at a point where it feels like there's more galvanizing than before. And I'm seeing a lot of social media discussions involving Blacks and Asian-Americans. And it seems like there's a lot of exchange now and more effort to include Blacks and Latinos in these discussions. And I think that's going to be key because we need allies. Asian-Americans cannot do this without allies. That is what I keep hearing.

- Well, Terry Tang, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate your time.

TERRY TANG: Thank you for having me, [INAUDIBLE]