Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Rising During COVID-19

Boy holding onto fence with the word "hate" written across his knuckles

New Wave of Anti-Asian Hate Crimes in Some US Cities

Anti-Asian hate crimes have become increasingly common since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, we have seen a sharp increase in these incidents over the past few weeks in certain parts of the nation. The Bay Area, Los Angeles, and New York reportedly see the highest number of hate crime incidents. For instance, an elderly Thai man named Vicha Ratanapakdee was violently pushed to the ground and died of his injuries in San Francisco. In New York City, a 36-year-old man was stabbed in the back, one of many anti-Asian hate crimes in NYC.

To put the matter into perspective, The Stop Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Hate center received over 2,800 firsthand reports of attacks and abuse against Asian-Americans during the coronavirus pandemic. Co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, Cynthia Choi, said community trackers have only recorded about 100 anti-Asian hate crime incidents in the previous years, so as you can see, incidents have skyrocketed in 2020 and may continue to do so in 2021.

According to Choi, about 40% of Anti-Asian hate crime incidents occurred in California, home to about one-third of the entire Asian-American population. Although most of the hate crimes against Asian-Americans are not prosecutable, “they’re dehumanizing,” says Choi. Stop AAPI Hate's data reveals that 7.3% of hate crime victims are 60 or older, although, advocates believe that number is much higher. To top it off, a Pew Research study from July 2020 revealed that about 4-in-10 US adults say it has become more common for people to be racist to Asians since the pandemic began. That number may have increased.

Hate crimes are widely unreported, one reason being that victims don’t believe the police will prioritize their case. However, we think otherwise. This is because California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released a bulletin in April 2020 outlining information and tools for police officers to use when responding to hate crime activity during COVID-19. In his bulletin, he says that a “key element in our efforts to protect [vulnerable] communities is encouraging them to report all crimes,” and considering the record number of reports received by Stop AAPI Hate, it seems like those efforts are working.

What Does This Mean for Hate Crime Suspects?

For an offense to be a hate crime, it must be a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim:

  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Nationality
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • The person’s association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics

As such, you cannot get charged for a hate crime if it isn’t motivated by the actual or perceived characteristics listed above. Hate crimes can span a vast range of unlawful actions, such as assault, battery, vandalism, arson, murder, and more, as long as they are motivated by an actual or perceived characteristic.

In the hate crime incidents we’ve seen so far, very little get prosecuted as hate crimes. Depending on the alleged offense, prosecutors have the burden of establishing several elements to convict someone of a hate crime. For example, if you are accused of a hate crime involving defacing, damaging, or destroying a reported victim’s property, prosecutors must prove the following:

  • The defendant knowingly defaced, damaged, or destroyed another person’s real or personal property
  • The defendant did so in whole or in part because of the other person’s actual or perceived protected characteristic(s), or because of the other person’s association with a person or group having one or more of these characteristics
  • The defendant did so with the specific intent to intimidate or interfere with the other person’s free exercise or enjoyment of a legally protected right or privilege

If you are charged for a crime such as a violent or property-related offense, you need reliable legal representation immediately, as hate crime charges may be added to your case. These days, more people tend to allege that certain crimes are motivated by race or other characteristics, therefore, you need a lawyer who can stand up for you and defend you against these speculations. A hate crime accusation can humiliate and devastate your life and easily tarnish your good name, so you deserve strong defense on your side.

To learn about your legal options, schedule a consultation with our attorney online or at (707) 418-5352!

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