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Anti-Asian hate crimes increased 339 percent nationwide last year, report says

The report also points out that Black Americans remained the most targeted group in terms of hate crimes.
People cross Grant Avenue in Chinatown in San Francisco on March 25.
People cross Grant Avenue in Chinatown in San Francisco on March 25. Jeff Chiu / AP file

New research finds that hate crimes targeting the Asian American community have reached some unprecedented levels. 

The compilation of hate crime data, published by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, revealed that anti-Asian hate crime increased by 339 percent last year compared to the year before, with New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities surpassing their record numbers in 2020.

The significant surge is part of an overall 11 percent increase in suspected hate crimes reported to police across a dozen of America’s largest cities. 

The report also found that Black Americans remained the most targeted group across most cities. In New York, the Jewish community reported the most hate crimes last year, with researchers, in part, linking increases to the three-week Gaza War in May. In Chicago, gay men were the most targeted. In terms of location, Los Angeles “recorded the most hate crimes of any U.S. city this century” in 2021 alone, with New York coming in just behind it. 

John C. Yang, the president and executive director of the nonprofit civil rights group Asian Americans Advancing Justice — AAJC, said that as the Asian American community weathers pandemic-fueled racism, the data prove that other groups deal with their own forms of hate, stressing that in times like this, “solidarity benefits us all.” 

“We must bring attention to the hate that impacts all communities,” Yang said. “The support of our allies representing diverse communities of color and diverse faith communities has meant a great deal as our Asian American communities have been under attack. All of our diverse communities, including LGBTQ+ communities, have experienced hate, and there is a profound but tragic solidarity in that.”

According to the data, the surge in reported anti-Asian hate crimes is significantly higher than it was in 2020, when they increased by 124 percent compared to the year before. New York City had a particularly drastic rise, from 30 to 133 anti-Asian hate crimes, a 343 percent increase. San Francisco also experienced an alarming jump, from nine to 60 crimes, a 567 percent increase. And Los Angeles had a similarly sizable hike of 173 percent. 

Yang said concern peaked around March, after eight people, six of them Asian women, were killed in shootings at Atlanta-area spas. Although some progress has been made, including increased awareness among elected officials, Yang said the issue hasn’t been remedied.

“Reports of increased anti-Asian hate in 2021 are, sadly, not a surprise,” said Yang, who stressed the necessity of culturally appropriate and accessible community safety programs. “Again, our communities are still under attack, and we must continue our efforts to address anti-Asian hate.” 

The report also included statistics about hate incidents against Asian Americans, which include nonviolent forms of discrimination like verbal harassment and shunning, from the hate incident tracking platform Stop AAPI Hate. The initiative collected about 10,370 reports of hate incidents from March 2020 to September 2021. 

Russell Jeung, a co-founder of the organization, has said the data may reflect a number of factors, including an increased awareness around reporting tools and a growing openness to report such incidents, because of the mobilization around the issue in the Asian American community. More dramatic surges may be reported in cities, in particular, because of access to information around the topic, Jeung said. Those areas may have more racially conscious Asian Americans and journalists who report on the subject, who are more likely to discuss the pandemic-fueled racism. 

“People may not report as much if you haven’t taken ethnic studies and live in Kansas. So that’s one factor of why we’re getting more reports. On the coasts, you have more Asian Americans who are attuned to and aware of how we’re facing discrimination,” he said.

Yang said people across all groups can seek to show allyship and solidarity, acts that don’t have to be dramatic measures. He said allies can begin by addressing microaggressions, or other casual forms of racism, as they occur in our daily lives. 

“Especially during a time when groups are trying to divide and pit vulnerable communities against each other, we must remember that we are stronger together,” Yang said.