2020 saw a 76% increase in anti-Asian hate incidents and crimes in LA County, ‘the capital of Asian America’
In 2020, anti-Asian hate crimes increased by a whopping 76% in Los Angeles County, according to a new county report that parallels the troubling trend of increased verbal and physical harassment against Asians in cities, counties and states across the country.
The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations (LACCHR), which has been collecting hate crime data since the 1980s, found that the 76% increase — from 25 reported crimes to 44 crimes — was the largest reported since 2001.
Three-quarters of those incidents involved physical violence (which alone increased by 58% since 2018), including a report in which a Chinese man who was waiting for a bus was the target of xenophobic insults and three punches to the face by a white woman.
Notable findings note that many victims were targeted because perpetrators thought they were a certain ethnicity. In 10 of the crimes reported last year, “suspects explicitly blamed the victims for COVID-19,” the report found.
Experts have pointed to the use of monikers that falsely connected the virus’ origins in China to anybody who looked Chinese; this, many indicate, has encouraged and cultivated xenophobic and racist behavior from assailants, many of whom blame their victims for COVID-19.
Los Angeles County, which is known as the capital of Asian America, is home to the largest population of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in the continental United States. With more than 1.5 million Asian Americans living within the borders of LA County, the increase in hate crimes is troubling.
But the Asian American community continues to be one of the most reluctant communities to report incidents to the police, so the number in the county’s may not reflect the reality of victims who are hesitant to come forward.
The data in the report comes from reports to the LA County Sheriff’s Department, 40 city police departments, and a handful of school and community organizations.
“The rise in hate crimes reported against LA County’s Asian American communities is deeply troubling,” said Otto Solórzano, Acting Director of the LA County Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services, in a statement. “With hate crimes likely to be underreported, we know that the actual number of hate crimes is higher than we’re able to report.”
The county’s report mirrors other jurisdictions’ and organizations’ reports on anti-Asian hate. California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who is Filipino American, reported earlier this year that statewide anti-Asian hate crimes more than doubled last year; in those reports, assault and intimidation were the most common offenses.
Reports by Stop AAPI Hate, which has been tracking anti-AAPI hate incidents since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, reported nearly 10,000 hate incidents in the U.S. since March 2020.
As previously reported in the Asian Journal, Cal State San Bernardino examined 16 jurisdictions across the country and found a 164% increase in anti-Asian hate crime reports in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same time period in 2020.
That report found that New York saw the largest increase (223%), followed by San Francisco (140%), Los Angeles (80%) and Boston (60%). n