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Asian-American Orgs Aim to Document, Expose Hate Crimes as Trump Administration Begins

Many Asian-American organizations are launching new projects to document anti-immigrant violence and bias attacks.
Berkeley, CA residents hang up signs as part of a campaign declaring \"Everyone is welcome here.\"
After a series of post-election hate incidents, residents of Berkeley, CA participate in new campaign declaring "Everyone is welcome here." Anirvan Chatterjee

As Asian-American groups across the country prepare for Friday's inauguration, many are approaching the start of the next four years by launching projects aimed at tracking hate crimes and bias incidents.

"There has definitely been an uptick in hate incidents in the months leading up to and after the election," Karin Wang, the Vice President of Programs and Communications at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles told NBC News. "We felt that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have always had to shoulder this outsider burden and that our stories have not been covered."

Wang said that while hate incidents against Muslim Americans have received extensive coverage since the election, she says crimes against other members of the community may be being overlooked. "There have been attacks at Asian-American churches, there have been Asian Americans harassed in the street," she said. "What we are worried about is that people are getting complacent."

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On Wednesday, Asian Americans Advancing Justice launched Standing Against Hatred, a new site that aims to track hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the country. "We want people to know that their stories aren't being lost and that people are being listened to," said Wang.

Another group, the California-based Alliance of South Asians Taking Action, is focusing their work on small cities and towns across the Bay Area. “We found after the election that there were a lot of hate actions happening around the Bay Area,” Anirvan Chatterjee, a member of the alliance, told NBC News. “But there were big gaps between where the hate actions were happening and where the protests and discussions were taking place.”

To close that gap and to start a conversation about hate crimes ahead of Friday’s inauguration, the Alliance recently released the new report "Ready for January 20," which documents how different municipalities are reacting to anti-immigrant violence and bias attacks. The report tracks how different cities are reacting to hate crimes, the prospect of a national Muslim registry, and the possibility of mass deportations of undocumented residents.

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“We’ve been telling people to contact their own city council people and contact their mayors,” said Chatterjee. “We saw that a lot of cities were starting to realize that something was happening.”

Some of the ways the cities the report tracked have been responding include sponsoring anti-hate resolutions, proposing anti-bullying measures for public schools, and proposing sanctuary status for cities.

“One of the things we want to stress is that it’s really important to look at all three issues as a triple threat,” said Chatterjee. “Hate is something that’s been happening right now in my hometown of Berkeley. So if that’s happening in deep blue Berkeley, think of what’s happening in other cities.”

Asian Americans Advancing Justice's Wang notes that many in her organization are worried that an increase in hate incidents might occur with the increased use of anti-Chinese rhetoric when it comes to trade policy and jobs. Similar sentiments were common in the 1970s and 1980s, when anti-Japanese rhetoric was common because of sentiments on trade.

"I think what is happening is that people feel more free to say things because they hear it around them," she said.

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