by Elpidio R. Estioko
It all started with mauling and robbing senior Asian-Americans in San Francisco and Tracy… because they are easy prey: helpless and cannot defend themselves. Although the motive for the attack is still under investigation, similar recent attacks have reportedly been fueled in part by racism pertaining to the coronavirus pandemic in all parts of the country.
Crimes against Asian Americans (Chinese Americans in particular) increased in number last year, reported to be fired, in part, by the coronavirus pandemic’s suspected origins in Wuhan, China.
According to police, there is a pattern where victims, whether walking down the street or in parking lots, were approached, pushed to the ground, and robbed in broad daylight or early morning. Since most Asians are similar in looks and appearances, non-Chinese Asians were likewise victims of the assaults.
Similar incidents happened in recent weeks across the Bay Area. Just recently for example, an 83-year-old Vietnamese man’s son named Kiet sent ABC7 News anchor Dion Lim photos of his father after he was brutally knocked to the ground Wednesday morning.
A 77-year-old woman also was attacked in a similar fashion around the same time. Unlike Pang, Kiet’s father fell forward, and his neck is now broken in several places. The San Francisco Police Department arrested Steven Jenkins for assault and elder abuse in both cases.
It was noted that victimization of older adults is an important subset of crime. People age 65 and older experience the same crimes as the rest of the population, including financial victimization, neglect, and physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. Older adults are often sought out because of their age and decreased likelihood of reporting to the police, a practice we need to improve.
While studies demonstrate that older adults are most maltreated by family members or acquaintances or persons they know, roughly half of violent victimizations are perpetrated by strangers. Researchers say the intimate nature of many of these victimizations means that older victims are less likely to report offenses committed by someone they know.
These mauling-robbery incidents escalated to full-scale racism with President Joe Biden acknowledging it as a hate crime against the Asian American community that is “skyrocketing” and needs to be addressed immediately.
According to data from the Stop AAPI Hate Coalition, a website that helps track the cases, there were nearly 3,000 hate incidents against Asian Americans in 2020 alone, some of which were not reported to police.
In the wake of the mass shooting in the Atlanta area that left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent, President Joe Biden on Friday condemned rising hate crimes against Asian Americans.
Hate crimes against Asian Americans Biden said, have been “skyrocketing” since the coronavirus pandemic began more than a year ago and that “the country cannot be silent in the face of the hate and violence.”
Biden said, speaking from Emory University in Atlanta: “Our silence is complicity. We cannot be complicit. We must speak out. We have to act.”
I buy Biden’s pronouncements that Asian Americans have been “attacked, blamed, scapegoated and harassed. They’ve been verbally assaulted, physically assaulted, killed.” These are realities happening in our neighborhood we cannot overlook!
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Atlanta on Friday to meet with Asian American leaders in the wake of the deadly shooting.
Biden shared: “The conversation we had today with the Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders, and that we’re hearing across the country, is that hate, and violence often hide in plain sight. It is often met with silence. That has been true throughout our history, but that has to change because our silence is complicity.”
As a result, Biden urged Congress to pass the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act, which he has said “would expedite the federal government’s response to hate crimes that have risen during the pandemic, support state and local governments to improve hate crimes reporting and make information on hate crimes more accessible to Asian American communities.” This to me, is an approach that will reduce, if not eradicate, hate crimes in the country.
Harris, who is America’s first Black and South Asian vice president said: “Racism is real in America and it has always been. Xenophobia is real in America and always has been — sexism too. For the last year, we have had people in positions of incredible power scapegoating Asian Americans — people with the biggest pulpits spreading this kind of hate. Ultimately, this is about who we are as a nation. This is about how we treat people with dignity and respect.”
During a meeting with leaders of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, Biden echoed Harris in condemning the rhetoric from powerful political leaders, according to one attendee.
Stephanie Cho, the executive director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice, said former President Donald Trump’s name came up repeatedly during Biden’s hourlong meeting with the group.
Cho hopes to see from the Biden administration strong support. She said: “I’d like to see it be beyond this moment. And that as much as the former President called it the ‘China virus’ and scapegoated Asian Americans and really fueled this racism around Asian Americans, I would like to see the Biden administration come out just as strongly but in support of Asian Americans.”
Mauling and robbing the elderly has been transformed to a hate crime against Asian Americans. It escalated so we need to unite and be one in condemning it and finding a solution to end it! We need to be vigilant and be one in educating the people and making them aware of resources and support structures we can avail of.
Let us end the haste crime against Asian Americans!
ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author @ firstname.lastname@example.org.