Social Justice

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Attacks on Pan Asians/Asian Americans

The New York Times reports that pandemic-related violence against Asian Americans fueled the formation of advocacy groups such as Stop AAPI Hate and the AAPI Emergency Response Network, which track and facilitate the reporting of harassment cases. However, most experts and organizational leaders believe that the attacks have little to do with the pandemic itself, but rather, the xenophobic rhetoric perpetrated by people in influential positions, such as political leaders.

Hard Data

  • According to the newspaper, The AAPI Emergency Response Network has recorded over 3,000 Covid-specific hate incidents against Asian Americans since commencing the tracking in 2020.
  • According to a report published by the Asian American Bar Association of New York, the NYPD received 24 coronavirus-related hate crimes directed against Asians between January – November 2020 in New York alone, which represents eight times the number reported in the same period in 2019.
  • Similarly, the Asian Americans Advancing Justice organization recorded less than 500 hate crime incidents against the Asian American community in the US between 2017 – 2019. However, the organization recorded 3,000 such cases in 2020 alone, between February and December.
  • On the other hand, Stop AAPI Hate, a self-reporting platform for hate crime incidents against Asian Americans, reported 2,808 cases across the US between March – December 2020.
  • According to the group, the most reported type of harassment was verbal assault (70.9%), followed by shunning or avoidance (21.4%), and physical assault (8.7%).

Expert Opinions

  • John C. Yang, the executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice noted that the hard data obtained on hate crimes against the Asian community in the US is narrow and incomprehensive since most of the organizations reporting the data rely on self-reporting on the part of the victims.
  • He also attributes the violence to xenophobic rhetoric, for instance, from political leaders: "The former President obviously used a lot of racial epithets that blamed the Asian community for the virus. That has conditioned people to think of Asian Americans as foreigners and engage in this xenophobic behavior. And that is hard to undo, notwithstanding the current administration."
  • Russell Jeung, a co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate and a professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University shares the same sentiments: "There’s a clear correlation between President Trump’s incendiary comments, his insistence on using the term ‘Chinese virus’ and the subsequent hate speech spread on social media and the hate violence directed towards us. It gives people license to attack us. The current spate of attacks on our elderly is part of how that rhetoric has impacted the broader population."
  • Similarly, Judy Chu, a California congresswoman who also chairs the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus pointed out that the attacks were not coincidental: "The Asian American community has reached a crisis-point. Community members are terrified by the alarming surge in anti-Asian American bigotry. These attacks are no accident. It’s clear January 6 was not the only violence Donald Trump incited."
  • A report by the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) points out that some of the causative factors for the attacks have little to do with the pandemic itself: "Anti-Asian hate and violence are not new. Historically, diseases and outbreaks have been used to rationalize racism and xenophobia against Asian Americans and against other perceived “out” groups. Such racism and xenophobia is often caused by a confluence of factors, some of which have little to do with the disease itself."

Social Media Reaction

  • Advocates for the Asian American community have taken to social media to call for the condemnation of attacks against the community, while others, such as celebrities, have leveraged their social media presence to create awareness and seek help in identifying the perpetrators.
  • Amanda Nguyen, a civil rights activist, and a Nobel Peace Prize nominee posted a video that went viral, which was calling for viewers to condemn the murder of Ratanapakdee, an 84-year old Asian American, as well as the attack on a 64-year-old Vietnamese, and a 61-year-old Filipino.
  • Similarly, actors Daniel Dae Kim and Daniel Wu took to Twitter to share the video of a 91-year-old Asian American man violently pushed to the ground in Oakland Chinatown and offered a $25,000 reward to anyone with information on the perpetrator, which led to his arrest and conviction.


  • The types of attacks made on the Asian American community range from physical assaults to coughing/spitting on victims, verbal harassment, shunning or avoidance, and refusal of service from establishments, transit, or ride-shares.
  • A 64-year-old Asian American woman was assaulted in San Jose on February 3, 2021, and robbed of $1,000 she had withdrawn from the bank ahead of the Lunar New Year celebrations.
  • A 61-year old Filipino was also slashed across his face with a box cutter the same day in a subway train bound for Manhattan, leaving him bleeding. The man reportedly received no help from other passengers on the train.
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Tech Industry Response to Attacks/Hate Crimes

A review of the websites, press releases, and social media activity of top tech companies, including Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Google, and Netflix did not find statements in response to the increasing number hate crimes committed against Pan Asians and Asian Americans in the US. However, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple Inc shared a post on his Twitter page condemning the attacks and announcing plans to donate to advocacy groups supporting the community.

Apple Inc

  • Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple Inc, shared a post on his Twitter page condemning the attacks against the Asian American community and announcing plans to donate to advocacy groups supporting the community.
  • The post was made on February 15, 2021.
  • It read, "The rising violence against the Asian community is a painful & urgent reminder that we must unite against racism in all its forms. There is no place for hate in our society. The team at Apple stands together & we will be donating to groups providing support to those affected."

Other Key Tech Industry Players

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