US President Joe Biden has condemned what he called “vicious hate crimes” targeting Asian-Americans since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, saying such acts must stop.
“Too often, we’ve turned against one another. A mask, the easiest thing to do to save lives, sometimes, it divides us… vicious hate crimes against Asian-Americans, who have been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated” during the pandemic, Biden said in his first primetime speech as President on Thursday.
“At this very moment, so many of them, our fellow Americans, they’re on the frontlines of this pandemic trying to save lives, and still, they are forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America,” he said while addressing the nation.
“It’s wrong. It’s un-American and it must stop.”
Biden issued a memorandum late January condemning “inflammatory and xenophobic rhetoric” that has put Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAP) at risk, including references to geographic locations of the virus origins that have stoked “unfounded fears”.
A recent research conducted by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism (CSHE) at the California State University, San Bernardino, found that there was nearly a 150 per cent surge in anti-Asian hate crimes across major cities in the US in 2020, while overall hate crimes fell by 7 per cent.
According to the research, New York City saw the highest jump, rising from 3 to 28, Boston and Los Angeles followed, with increases from 6 to 14, and 7 to 15 respectively.
The first spike occurred in March-April 2020 amid a rise in Covid-19 cases and negative stereotyping of Asians relating them to the pandemic.
More than 2,800 of these hate incidents targeting Asian-Americans had been reported in 47 states and the District of Columbia since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Stop AAPI Hate, a non-profit group formed in 2020.