AG Bonta: Anti-Asian hate incidents jumped 177.5% in California

Photo by Kareem Hayes on Unsplash

AMID the rise in anti-Asian hate and discrimination across the United States, California reported a 177.5% increase in anti-Asian hate incidents from 2020 to 2022, according to Attorney General Rob Bonta.

On Tuesday, June 28, Bonta’s office released the 2021 Hate Crime in California report which found a sharp increase in hate crimes — defined as any crimes against individuals based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and religion — across the Golden State.

The number of reported hate crimes in 2020 was 1,330 while in 2021, that number jumped to 1,763 — a 33% rise — making it the highest surge in reported hate crimes since 9/11, according to Bonta.

Amid the wave of anti-Asian hate since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of reported anti-Asian hate incidents jumped from 89 in 2020 to 247 in 2021.

“Today’s report undeniably shows that the epidemic of hate we saw spurred on during the pandemic remains a clear and present threat,” said Bonta — who is Filipino American — in a statement.

Bonta said that the Office of the Attorney General will create a statewide hate crime coordinator in the Criminal Law Division within California’s Department of Justice, which he said is designed to assist state and local law enforcement to better address hate crime.

“While there is no single solution, it’s up to all of us to heed the call, because when our communities feel empowered, they come forward. Now, more than ever, it is critical that we stand united — there is no place for hate in California.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of victims of anti-Asian hate incidents have come forward with reports of abuse, ranging from verbal to physical attacks. Despite lawmakers, law enforcement agencies, and advocates bolstering efforts to combatting the disturbing trend, assault reports continue to flood in.

Last year saw a long string of assaults against elderly Asian individuals in California, primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area — which weeks ago reported a whopping 567% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2021 — and Los Angeles County. According to these incident reports and witness accounts, many of the assailants referenced the COVID-19 pandemic during the attack.

Bonta’s report follows the 40th anniversary of the murder of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American man who was targetted by white autoworkers in Detroit who blamed the Japanese community for taking their jobs.

And Bonta acknowledged that these statistics, while sobering, do not paint the true picture of hate in California, and often, crimes go unreported. And, as previously reported in the Asian Journal, prosecutors have admitted that crimes based on demographic bias is more difficult to charge and prosecute than other crimes.

“These, of course, are statistics but they are more than just numbers. Each of these incidents represents an attack on a person, a neighbor, a family member, a fellow Californian, and worse, we know our statistics likely are not exhaustive. Still today, too many are too afraid to come forward,” Bonta said.

However, the report also found a 30% increase in the number of hate crime cases filed for prosecution by district and city attorneys.

The report also shed alarming rises in hate against other communities. Hate crimes which were motivated by sexual orientation bias jumped 48%, going from 205 reports in 2020 to 303 in 2021.

The most prevalent form of hate crimes reported, according to the report, were crimes against the Black community, which experienced 513 reported incidents. Anti-Latino or anti-Hispanic bias increased from 115 in 2020 to 152 in 2021. n

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