Former US President Donald Trump has been sued by a Chinese-American civil rights group for calling Covid-19 the “China virus”.
The complaint, filed in a federal court in New York on Thursday by the Chinese Americans Civil Rights Coalition (CACRC), alleged that Trump’s use of that phrase and other similar racist slurs is baseless, since the origin of the coronavirus is not yet determined, and that the former President’s conduct harmed the community, reorts Xinhua news agency.
Trump’s “extreme and outrageous conduct was carried out throughout the pandemic with reckless disregard of whether such conduct would cause Chinese Americans to suffer emotional distress”, stated the suit.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to a spike in violence against Asian Americans, a sizable portion of them Americans of Chinese descent, which activists have blamed on Trump’s rhetoric.
One of the worst incidents of violence against Asian-Americans took place on March 17 when a gunman shot eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, in three attacks on massage parlours in and around Atlanta.
The suit further alleged that Trump continued to use those derogatory words to refer to the coronavirus even as he knew that the virus didn’t necessarily come from China.
“The truth matters, words have consequences especially from those in powerful and influential positions,” the complaint said.
“(Trump) intentionally repeated those defamatory words to serve his own personal and political interest with astonishing level of actual malice and negligence, hence severely injuring the Chinese/Asian Americans communities in the process.”
The CACRC is asking that $1 be paid to every Asian American and Pacific Islander living in the US as an apology, which would total $22.9 million.
The plaintiffs said they would use the money to establish a museum that will showcase the history of Asian American and Pacific Islanders communities and their contribution to the US.
Responding to the suit, Jason Miller, senior adviser for Trump, told The Hill news website in a statement: “This is an insane and idiotic lawsuit that is specious at best, and it will be dismissed if it ever sees a courtroom.
“It’s a complete joke, and if I was the lawyer that brought it I’d be worried about getting sanctioned.”
The lawsuit was filed the same day when President Joe Biden also signed a bill that addressed the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.