Hate crimes were up 139 per cent this year so far in New York City compared to the same period in 2020, according to New York Police Department statistics.
Behind those figures were a rise in reported hate incidents against the AAPI community of 400 per cent.
Other groups like LGBTQ people, Black people, and Jewish people all registered increases as well, with hate crime reports climbing by 244, 86, and 69 per cent, respectively.
The increases, while dramatic, may reflect the fact many people remained inside during the beginning of the pandemic.
Still, Asian-American leaders across the country say their communities are under siege, as an outbreak of anti-Asian xenophobia spread alongside the coronavirus.
“The political and social invisibility of Asian-Americans have real-life consequences,” Chris Kwok, board member for the Asian American Bar Association of New York, told The New York Times. In one day in New York last February, four different Asian-American women were attacked, including a woman who was shoved to the ground in broad daylight on a crowded street in Queens.
“I’ve never cried like that before,” Maggie Cheng, her daughter, said at the time, having watched video of the incident. “To see my mother get thrown like that, she looks like a feather. She looks like a rag doll.
Former president Donald Trump did little to combat this the harmful stereotypes Asian leaders say are fueling the attacks. Mr Trump frequently demonized the Chinese for the fact that coronavirus first began spreading in the city of Wuhan, China, and he branded the pandemic the “China virus” and “Kung Flu.”
Despite shocking incidents of anti-Asian hate taking place across the country, events often go unreported by communities of colour for fear of working with police, and even when people do file claims, convictions are often difficult unless attackers make explicitly racist remarks or have a history of bias incidents.
Others have pointed to the fact that the seeming rise in attacks is likely part of a much more complicated phenomenon. Data is often unreliable and self-reported, and could reflect a growing societal priority around stopping hate crimes rather than an actual rise in them.
As the 1982 murder of Vincent Chin and other incidents make clear, anti-Asian hate and violence has a long history in the US.