a military pact with the United States, one that Mr. Duterte has previously threatened to terminate. Herman Kraft, a political scientist at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City, said it was important to view Mr. Locsin’s comments against the backdrop of those geopolitics.

“Locsin probably wants to send a signal to the U.S. before President Duterte commits the Philippine government on a policy direction that would be difficult to backpedal from,” he said.

Mr. Cruz De Castro, the professor, said that Mr. Locsin’s Twitter storm was a “knee-jerk” reaction that reflected his personality more than specific policy priorities in the Philippines. But the response to the attack from people across the Philippines, he added, illustrated the country’s strong connection with its diaspora.

“It’s a reflection of our attitude of, ‘When we send people abroad, they’re still linked with us,’” he said, “ignoring the fact that they’re under private motive and have basically adopted the culture and citizenship of their host country.”

Jason Gutierrez reported from Manila and Mike Ives from Hong Kong.

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Prabal Gurung on Anti-Asian Violence, Discrimination and the Duties of Success

Prabal Gurung, the Nepalese-American designer, has been a vocal proponent of inclusion and diversity since his first show in 2009. In the wake of the Atlanta shootings and an upswing in anti-Asian violence, he talked to The New York Times about his own experiences and what his work has to do with it.

How do you grapple with what’s going on?

To watch a video of a 65-year-old woman being brutally attacked is triggering and heart-wrenching, not just for me but for my friends and people from my community. We all are so worried for our loved ones. My mother goes on walks every morning and evening. She’s 75-years-old. A couple of weeks ago, I bought a blond wig for her, and I said, “You know, just wear it when you go outside, wear a hat, wear glasses.” She tried it on. But the next day she came over to my place, and she was like: “I’m not going to wear it. Just buy me a big, strong cane.” That is the reality of this.

Is that why you were an organizer of a Black and Asian solidarity march with other designers and activists in March?

We didn’t know how many people were going to show up, but thousands and thousands of people showed up across races and gender: L.G.B.T.Q. friends, Latin friends, Black friends, Asian friends, white friends. What we recognize is that for this particular moment to turn into a movement, we have to have all the marginalized groups and our white counterparts coming together.

Oh, a wave of Asian designers.” Then there’s a wave of Black designers, a wave of women designers. We never say a wave of white designers. We are never considered designers on our own. So that kind of implicit bias, that kind of microaggression, we face it all the time.

Did you experience it when you were trying to get financial backing for your business?

For my 10-year anniversary I was at a potential investors meeting, and one asked, “What does the brand stand for?” I said: “The America that I see is very colorful. The dinner table that I see is very colorful. It’s diverse. That’s the America that was promised to me. That’s why I came here, because I was a misfit back home.” And he says to me, “Well, you don’t look American.” I looked at him, and I was like, “You mean to say I don’t look white?”

“It’s OK,” I said. “I’ve been in business in America for 20 years. I’m a citizen. I make more than 90 percent of my clothes in New York City. I am actively involved in social causes. I’ve contributed to my taxes.”

torrent of hate and violence against people of Asian descent around the U.S. began last spring, in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Community leaders say the bigotry was spurred by the rhetoric of former President Trump, who referred to the coronavirus as the “China virus.”

  • In New York, a wave of xenophobia and violence has been compounded by the economic fallout of the pandemic, which has dealt a severe blow to New York’s Asian-American communities. Many community leaders say racist assaults are being overlooked by the authorities.
  • In January, an 84-year-old man from Thailand was violently slammed to the ground in San Francisco, resulting in his death at a hospital two days later. The attack, captured on video, has become a rallying cry.
  • Eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were killed in the Atlanta massage parlor shootings on March 16. The suspect’s motives are under investigation, but Asian communities across the United States are on alert because of a surge in attacks against Asian-Americans over the past year.
  • A man has been arrested and charged with a hate crime in connection with a violent attack on a Filipino woman near Times Square on March 30. The attack sparked further outrage after security footage appeared to show bystanders failing to immediately come to the woman’s aid.
  • Part of what you are trying to do with your work is educate people about the nuances of different Asian cultures, right?

    Asian-Americans are the fastest growing immigrant group in the U.S. electorate, with roots all over the world. We are diverse. I look East Asian, right? But I’m from Southeast Asia. I sit in the center of the brown Asians and the other Asians. The wealth disparity between the richest Asian-Americans and the poorest is insanely high. I think maybe the largest of any ethnic group in this country. In spite of that, there is a myth of the model minority, of crazy rich Asians. That’s why “Parasite” is important, why “Minari” is important. Give us the platform so we can tell our stories.

    This stereotyping doesn’t make you angry?

    I’m OK with people making mistakes because it can start a dialogue that leads to a solution. I refuse to cancel people unless there’s something really harmful.

    Fashion is one of the hardest and most arduous industries, but it’s also an industry that can reward you in the most splendid, incredible way. And it is the only industry where in 10 minutes on a runway we can really change the narrative of what the culture can be. That’s the power of fashion.

    I am a living example of it, coming from a country like Nepal where nobody believed I could be a designer. To be able to live that dream and to have this platform. It’s been really incredible.


    This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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    ‘We all know hate when we see it’: Warnock rejects FBI chief’s view of Atlanta shootings

    Law enforcement officials including the director of the FBI have said the shootings in Atlanta in which eight people were killed do not appear to have been racially motivated, but the Georgia senator Raphael Warnock said on Sunday: “We all know hate when we see it.”

    Six women of Asian descent, another woman and a man were killed on Tuesday, in a shootings at spas in the Atlanta area.

    Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old white man, was charged with the murders. He told police his actions were not racially motivated, and claimed to have a sex addiction.

    Speaking to NPR on Thursday, the FBI director, Christopher Wray, said: “While the motive remains still under investigation at the moment, it does not appear that the motive was racially motivated.”

    But such conclusions are rejected by protesters who see a link to rising attacks on Asian Americans in light of the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in China, and racially charged rhetoric from former president Donald Trump and others.

    Warnock, a Democrat, took office in January as the first African American elected to the US Senate from Georgia. On Saturday he and his fellow Democratic senator Jon Ossoff spoke to protesters near the state capitol in Atlanta.

    “I just wanted to drop by to say to my Asian sisters and brothers, ‘We see you, and, more importantly, we are going to stand with you,’” Warnock said, to cheers.

    On Sunday, he told NBC’s Meet the Press: “I think it’s important that we centre the humanity of the victims. I’m hearing a lot about the shooter, but these precious lives that have been lost, they are attached to families. They’re connected to people who love them. And so, we need to keep that in mind.

    “Law enforcement will go through the work that they need to do, but we all know hate when we see it. And it is tragic that we’ve been visited with this kind of violence yet again.”

    Warnock also cited a Georgia hate crimes law passed amid outrage over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a young African American man, and which prosecutors may decide to use against Young.

    “I’ve long pushed for hate crimes laws here in the state of Georgia,” Warnock said. “It took entirely too long to get one on the books here. But thankfully, we do have that law on the books right now.”

    Calling for “reasonable gun reform”, Warnock also linked official responses to the Atlanta shootings to efforts by Republicans to restrict voting among minority groups.

    “This shooter was able to kill all of these folks the same day he purchased a firearm,” Warnock said. “But right now, what is our legislature doing? They’re busy under the gold dome here in Georgia, trying to prevent people from being able to vote the same day they register.

    “I think that suggests a distortion in values. When you can buy a gun and create this much carnage and violence on the same day, but if you want to exercise your right to vote as an American citizen, the same legislature that should be focused on this is busy erecting barriers to that constitutional right.”

    Young bought a 9mm handgun at Big Woods Goods. Matt Kilgo, a lawyer for the store, told the Associated Press it complies with federal background check laws and is cooperating with police, with “no indication there’s anything improper”.

    Democrats and campaigners for gun law reform said a mandatory waiting period might have stopped Young acting on impulse.

    “It’s really quick,” Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, told the AP. “You walk in, fill out the paperwork, get your background check and walk out with a gun. If you’re in a state of crisis, personal crisis, you can do a lot of harm fairly quickly.”

    According to the Giffords Center, studies suggest purchase waiting periods may bring down firearm suicides by up to 11% and homicides by about 17%.

    David Wilkerson, the minority whip in the Georgia state House, said Democrats planned to introduce legislation that would require a five-day period between buying a gun and getting it.

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    Atlanta spa shootings: Georgia hate crimes law could see first big test

    A hate crimes law passed in Georgia amid outrage over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery could get its first major test as part of the murder case against a white man charged with shooting and killing six women of Asian descent at Atlanta-area massage businesses this week.

    Prosecutors in Georgia who will decide whether to pursue a hate crimes enhancement have declined to comment. But one said she was “acutely aware of the feelings of terror being experienced in the Asian American community”.

    Until last year, Georgia was one of four states without a hate crimes law. But lawmakers moved quickly to pass stalled legislation in June, during national protests over racial violence against Black Americans including the killing of Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was pursued by several white men and fatally shot while out running in February 2020.

    The new law allows an additional penalty for certain crimes if they are motivated by a victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender or mental or physical disability.

    Governor Brian Kemp called the new legislation “a powerful step forward”, adding when signing it into law: “Georgians protested to demand action and state lawmakers … rose to the occasion.”

    The killings of eight people in Georgia this week have prompted national mourning and a reckoning with racism and violence against Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic. The attack also focused attention on the interplay of racism and misogyny, including hyper-sexualized portrayals of Asian women in US culture.

    sex addiction.

    Asian American lawmakers, activists and scholars argued that the race and gender of the victims were central to the attack.

    “To think that someone targeted three Asian-owned businesses that were staffed by Asian American women … and didn’t have race or gender in mind is just absurd,” said Grace Pai, director of organizing at Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Chicago.

    Elaine Kim, a professor emeritus in Asian American studies at the University of California, Berkeley, said: “I think it’s likely that the killer not only had a sex addiction but also an addiction to fantasies about Asian women as sex objects.”

    Such sentiments were echoed on Saturday as a diverse, hundreds-strong crowd gathered in a park across from the Georgia state capitol to demand justice for the victims of the shootings.

    Speakers included the US senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff and the Georgia state representative Bee Nguyen, the first Vietnamese American in the Georgia House.

    “I just wanted to drop by to say to my Asian sisters and brothers, we see you, and, more importantly, we are going to stand with you,” Warnock said to loud cheers. “We’re all in this thing together.”

    US senators Raphael Warnock, right, and Jon Ossoff participate in a march and rally in downtown Atlanta.
    The US senators Raphael Warnock, right, and Jon Ossoff participate in a march and rally in downtown Atlanta. Photograph: Erik S Lesser/EPA

    Bernard Dong, a 24-year-old student from China at Georgia Tech, said he had come to the protest to demand rights not just for Asians but for all minorities.

    “Many times Asian people are too silent, but times change,” he said, adding that he was “angry and disgusted” about the shootings and violence against Asians, minorities and women.

    Otis Wilson, a 38-year-old photographer, said people needed to pay attention to discrimination against those of Asian descent.

    “We went through this last year with the Black community, and we’re not the only ones who go through this,” he said.

    The Cherokee county district attorney, Shannon Wallace, and Fulton county district attorney, Fani Willis, will decide whether to pursue the hate crime enhancement.

    Wallace said she could not answer specific questions but said she was “acutely aware of the feelings of terror being experienced in the Asian-American community”. A representative for Willis did not respond to requests for comment.

    The US Department of Justice could bring federal hate crime charges independently of state prosecutions. Federal investigators have not uncovered evidence to prove Long targeted the victims because of their race, two unnamed officials told the Associated Press.

    A Georgia State University law professor, Tanya Washington, said it was important for the new hate crimes law to be used.

    “Unless we test it with cases like this one, we won’t have a body of law around how do you prove bias motivated the behavior,” she said.

    Surveillance footage shows Atlanta shooting suspect leaving massage parlour – video
    Surveillance footage shows Atlanta shooting suspect leaving massage parlour – video

    Given that someone convicted of multiple murders is unlikely to be released from prison, an argument could be made that it is not worth the effort, time and expense to pursue a hate crime designation that carries a relatively small additional penalty. But the Republican state representative Chuck Efstration, who sponsored the hate crimes bill, said it was not just about punishment.

    “It is important that the law calls things what they are,” he said. “It’s important for victims and it’s important for society.”

    The state senator Michelle Au, a Democrat, said the law needed to be used to give it teeth.

    Au believes there has been resistance nationwide to charge attacks against Asian Americans as hate crimes because they are seen as “model minorities”, a stereotype that they are hard-working, educated and free of societal problems. She said she had heard from many constituents in the last year that Asian Americans – and people of Chinese descent in particular – were suffering from bias because the coronavirus emerged in China and Donald Trump used racial terms to describe it.

    “People feel like they’re getting gaslighted because they see it happen every day,” she said. “They feel very clearly that it is racially motivated but it’s not pegged or labeled that way. And people feel frustrated by that lack of visibility and that aspect being ignored.”

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    Atlanta shootings: why US hate crime data is so lacking | Mona Chalabi

    Of the eight people killed in Atlanta spas on Wednesday, six of them were Asian women. The police claim it is too soon to know if the suspect was motivated by racial hatred, focusing instead on the idea that the massage parlors were a “temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate”.

    This, of course, ignores the possibility that someone might be motivated by racial hatred and sexism.

    Unfortunately, most statistics make the same assumption. Hate crime data that is gathered by the FBI is often categorized according to a single motivation (such as religion, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, gender identity). Less than 3% of the hate crimes that were reported in 2019 recorded multiple biases.

    Reality is obviously much more complex than these numbers capture. Many of the victims of Wednesday’s attack were Asian and women and possibly sex workers (police have long identified the spas as places where sex work and possible sexual exploitation regularly occurred). These facts can not be treated in isolation.

    Things get even more complicated when you consider reporting rates. A person’s race and gender identity will affect the likelihood that they will report a hate crime to the police. This is particularly true of sex workers, whose work is is still largely criminalized across the United States.

    So, what numbers are we left with? We could instead look to data on violent victimization that isn’t specifically motivated by hate. It’s imperfect since it includes robberies and assault data.

    A study published earlier this year tried to use a different dataset – the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) – to take a closer look at anti-Asian hatred.

    The authors found hate crimes against Asian Americans are more likely to be committed by non-white offenders than hate crimes against Black Americans or Hispanics. They attribute this to the “model minority” stereotype which inspires animosity from other people of color. They also found that hate crimes against Asians are more likely to take place at school and found the same explanation for this difference.

    Lastly, we could look to data gathered by organizations that have a closer connection to the Asian community.

    From March 2020 to February 2021, 3,795 incidents of anti-Asian hatred were reported to Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit organization that tracks discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. They found that verbal harassment (68%) and shunning (21% – ie the deliberate avoidance of Asian Americans) made up the two largest types of reported incidents. Reports showed that discrimination was happening in all kinds of contexts – businesses (35%), street/sidewalk (25%) and online (11%).

    Anti-Asian hatred has been stoked by Donald Trump’s repeated insistence on referring to Covid-19 as the “China virus”. This language reappeared in many of the incidents reported to Stop AAPI Hate – for instance a woman who was approached by two male neighbors that “approached me threateningly on the street, pulled down the corners of their eyes and said, ‘“Go back to Wuhan, bitch, and take the virus with you!’”

    Another report from a woman in Brooklyn says: “A white man catcalled me, then aggressively followed me down the block, and got inches from my face and yelled “Ch*nk!” and “C*nt!” after realizing I was Asian. Lots of neighbors were standing outside their homes and no one intervened.”

    These narratives make it clear that any attempts to separate sexism and racism are meaningless.

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    ‘Our silence is complicity’: Biden and Harris condemn anti-Asian violence during Atlanta visit

    Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have condemned a “heinous act of violence” during a trip to Atlanta, hoping to console a city and Asian American communities rocked by the attack this week that left eight people dead and one injured.

    Delivering remarks on Friday evening at Emory University after a day spent meeting with Asian American community leaders and politicians, the president and vice-president spoke out forcefully against the shooting, in which six of the victims were women of Asian descent, as well as the rise in anti-Asian violence.

    “Hate can have no safe harbor in America,” Biden said, calling on Americans to stand up to bigotry when they see it. “Our silence is complicity. We cannot be complicit.”

    Biden said “it was heart wrenching to listen to” Asian American state legislators and other community leaders discuss living in fear.

    “Racism is real in America. And it has always been. Xenophobia is real in America, and always has been. Sexism, too,” said Harris, calling the shootings a “heinous act of violence”.

    “The president and I will not be silent. We will not stand by. We will always speak out against violence, hate crimes and discrimination, wherever and whenever it occurs.

    “Whatever the killer’s motive, these facts are clear,” Harris added: six of the eight people killed were of Asian descent, seven were women, and “the shootings took place in businesses owned by Asian Americans”.

    The visit comes amid a nationwide surge in verbal and physical attacks against Asian Americans. Biden on Friday expressed support for the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act, a bill that would strengthen the government’s reporting and response to hate crimes and provide resources to such communities.

    Both Biden and Harris spoke to the rise in anti-Asian violence over the past year, with Biden alluding to the Donald Trump and other Republicans who have repeatedly demonized China for the coronavirus.

    “Words have consequences,” Biden said. “Whatever the motivation [for the shootings] we know this: too many Asian Americans have been walking up and down the streets and worrying. Waking up each morning the past year feeling their safety and the safety of their loved ones are stake. They’ve been attacked, blamed, scapegoated and harassed.”

    “It’s been a year of living in fear for their lives just to walk down their street. Grandparents afraid to leave their homes. Small businesses attacked.”

    “Asian Americans have been attacked and scapegoated” throughout the pandemic, Harris said. “We’ve had people in positions of incredible power scapegoating Asian Americans. People with the biggest pulpits spreading this kind of hate.”

    The gunman targeted two massage parlors in Atlanta and another on the outskirts of the city. Robert Aaron Long, 21, has been charged with the murder of eight people and the assault of another.

    The ethnicity of the victims has prompted a discussion about race and the treatment of Asian Americans, particularly women, in America. The Cherokee county sheriff’s office was heavily criticized after claiming the shootings appeared unrelated to race, and for stating that Long related that he was “having a bad day” when he opened fire at the three spas.

    Flowers and signs at the growing memorial at the scene of two of the massage parlor shootings in Atlanta, Georgia.
    Flowers and signs at the growing memorial at the scene of two of the massage parlor shootings in Atlanta, Georgia. Photograph: Erik S Lesser/EPA

    Four more victims were named on Friday. Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; Suncha Kim, 69; and Yong Yue, 63, were shot and killed at two neighboring massage parlors in north-east Atlanta.

    Delaina Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Tan, 49; and Daoyou Feng, 44, were killed at a parlor north-west of the city. Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz was also shot, but survived.

    The day after the shootings the Cherokee county sheriff, Frank Reynolds, was the focus of scorn after he said Long “gave no indicators” that his crimes were racially motivated. “We asked him that specifically and the answer was no,” Reynolds said. The seeming acceptance of Long’s statement prompted widespread backlash, with Asian American leaders pointing to the rise in hate crimes against Asians and the stigmatization of Asian women.

    “It looked like a hate crime to me,” Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta’s mayor, told CNN on Thursday night. “This was targeted at Asian spas. Six of the women who were killed were Asian so it’s difficult to see it as anything but that.”

    Bottoms said: “There are many areas of hate that are covered within the definition of a hate crime.”

    In Atlanta, Asian Americans are still trying to come to terms with the shootings. Woojin Kang, a young man of Korean descent, stood on the sidewalk in front of Gold Spa on Thursday evening, the site of one of the shootings, holding a neon yellow sign that read “Asian women’s bodies have been slayed” above the hashtag “#StopAsianHate”.

    “The biggest thing I’m encouraging in my community is to lament. That means to viciously cry out in any way that may manifest. But we need to cry out. We can’t be silent any more,” Kang said.

    “People say Asians are the submissive ones, we’ll be quiet. No. We need to cry out, whatever that looks like. For me, that looked like coming out today with signs, standing on the street.”

    Biden and Harris had already been scheduled to visit Atlanta, as part of a tour designed to laud the recently passed $1.9tn Covid-19 relief bill, but the focus of the visit was changed in the wake of the shootings.

    The shootings came just days after Biden had warned of the rise in violence against Americans of Asian descent. In a speech on 11 March – his first primetime address as president – Biden condemned anti-Asian racism and hate crimes.

    “At this very moment, so many of them, our fellow Americans, they’re on the frontlines of this pandemic trying to save lives, and still, still they’re forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America,” Biden said during that address. “It’s wrong. It’s un-American. And it must stop.”

    Nearly 3,800 incidents have been reported to Stop AAPI Hate, a reporting center for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and its partner advocacy groups since March 2020.

    Agencies contributed reporting

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    How Anti-Asian Activity Online Set the Stage for Real-World Violence

    Negative Asian-American tropes have long existed online but began increasing last March as parts of the United States went into lockdown over the coronavirus. That month, politicians including Representative Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona, and Representative Kevin McCarthy, a Republican of California, used the terms “Wuhan virus” and “Chinese coronavirus” to refer to Covid-19 in their tweets.

    Those terms then began trending online, according to a study from the University of California, Berkeley. On the day Mr. Gosar posted his tweet, usage of the term “Chinese virus” jumped 650 percent on Twitter; a day later there was an 800 percent increase in their usage in conservative news articles, the study found.

    Mr. Trump also posted eight times on Twitter last March about the “Chinese virus,” causing vitriolic reactions. In the replies section of one of his posts, a Trump supporter responded, “U caused the virus,” directing the comment to an Asian Twitter user who had cited U.S. death statistics for Covid-19. The Trump fan added a slur about Asian people.

    In a study this week from the University of California, San Francisco, researchers who examined 700,000 tweets before and after Mr. Trump’s March 2020 posts found that people who posted the hashtag #chinesevirus were more likely to use racist hashtags, including #bateatingchinese.

    “There’s been a lot of discussion that ‘Chinese virus’ isn’t racist and that it can be used,” said Yulin Hswen, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco, who conducted the research. But the term, she said, has turned into “a rallying cry to be able to gather and galvanize people who have these feelings, as well as normalize racist beliefs.”

    Representatives for Mr. Trump, Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Gosar did not respond to requests for comment.

    Misinformation linking the coronavirus to anti-Asian beliefs also rose last year. Since last March, there have been nearly eight million mentions of anti-Asian speech online, much of it falsehoods, according to Zignal Labs, a media insights firm.

    In one example, a Fox News article from April that went viral baselessly said that the coronavirus was created in a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan and intentionally released. The article was liked and shared more than one million times on Facebook and retweeted 78,800 times on Twitter, according to data from Zignal and CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned tool for analyzing social media.

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    ‘We are in pain’: Asian American lawmaker Grace Meng makes powerful speech – video

    The Asian American lawmaker Grace Meng called out the violence and discrimination against her community at a hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday. ‘Our community is bleeding. We are in pain. And for the last year, we’ve been screaming out for help,’ she  said. She told a panel the rising tide of anti-Asian bigotry was fuelled in part by rhetoric from Donald Trump and his allies, who have referred to Covid-19 as the ‘China virus’ and ‘kung flu’ 

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    FBI under pressure to tackle anti-Asian hate crime in wake of Atlanta shootings

    Federal and local law enforcement agencies are under pressure to increase efforts to combat the rising tide of hate crimes against Asian Americans in the wake of the Atlanta, Georgia spa shootings that left eight people dead, six of them women of Asian descent.

    The FBI and other police forces are facing criticism for levels of reporting of hate crimes that remain abysmally low, despite several attempts by Congress to highlight the outrages.

    Asian American community leaders expressed dismay on Wednesday, a day after the shootings at three massage parlors, that the discrimination and harassment historically faced by their communities continued to be downplayed.

    “It’s taken six Asian American women dying in one day to get people to pay attention to this,” Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) told the Guardian. “Record keeping of hate crimes against Asian Americans is so low because they are not even willing to accept that we are discriminated against and harassed because of our race.”

    In the latest statistics for hate crimes compiled by the FBI for 2019, a total of 4,930 victims were identified where race or ethnicity was the motive. Of those, 4.4% were victims of anti-Asian bias, compared with 48.5% of anti-black and 14.1% of anti-Hispanic bias.

    The data is widely accepted to be a gross understatement of the hate crime problem in America today, including for Asian Americans. A federal law has been in place since 1990 requiring records to be kept on hate crimes, but it is largely ineffective as individual police forces are under no obligation to participate.

    As a result, almost 90% of the law enforcement organizations involved in the 2019 hate crimes study reported no incidents at all – a blank filing that many civil rights advocates regard as frankly unbelievable. On top of that, a federal report released in February found that more than 40% of hate crimes are never reported to authorities.

    “We don’t even have a clear picture of the true amount of hate crime in the US. The FBI can tell you how many bank robberies occurred last year, but they can’t tell you a real assessment of bias crimes,” said Michael German of the Brennan Center for Justice who worked in the 1990s as an undercover FBI agent infiltrating white supremacist groups.

    German pointed out that between 2017 and 2018 there were 230,000 violent hate crimes, according to a Department of Justice survey of victims. Yet over the same period the DoJ only prosecuted 50 hate crime cases.

    “That’s an indication of the lack of interest and priority that the federal government pays to this subject,” German said.

    new report itemizing 3,795 incidents of verbal harassment, physical assault, workplace discrimination and other forms of bias that occurred during the pandemic.

    The group said the incidents represented “only a fraction of the number of hate incidents that actually occur, but it does show how vulnerable Asian Americans are to discrimination”.

    Asian Americans Advancing Justice is another group that encourages self-reporting of hate and harassment through its hate tracker, StandAgainstHatred.org. Marita Etcubañez, the organization’s senior director of strategic initiatives, said that the chronic under-reporting of hate incidents had many causes, including individuals’ reluctance to engage with law enforcement and lack of language support.

    “Many immigrants are distrustful of government and aren’t confident that they will get the help and support they need if they do report,” she said.

    Women and older Asian Americans appear to have been especially targeted in the wave of incidents ranging from verbal assaults to brutal attacks. In January Vicha Ratanapakdee, 84, was fatally attacked on the streets of San Francisco.

    Choimorrow said that there had been a surge in hate incidents during the pandemic. Her group, NAPAWF, had conducted a soon-to-be-published survey that found that about 50% of Chinese American women in the sample had experienced racist slurs in public, rising to 64% of Korean American women.

    She said that she could personally attest to that. “I have experienced racism directed at me around the pandemic just walking around my Chicago neighborhood. I’ve had a man chasing me and my daughter down the street yelling ‘Go back to China and take your virus with you!’”

    The precise motivation of the male Atlanta spa shooter remains unclear, with some reports suggesting it may have been more of a sexual than a racial nature. But fears among Asian Americans have been elevated by the killings, coming as they do on top of the spike in hate incidents that followed the former US president Donald Trump’s xenophobic description of coronavirus as the “Chinese virus”.

    Joe Biden addressed the shootings on Wednesday. “Whatever the motivation here, I know Asian Americans, they are very concerned, because as you know I have been speaking about the brutality against Asian Americans, and it’s troubling,” he said.

    In his first week in office, the president signed an executive order designed to combat racism and xenophobia against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. It condemned “inflammatory and xenophobic rhetoric” without mentioning Trump by name.

    The order also instructed the US attorney general, since confirmed as the former federal judge Merrick Garland, to “expand collection of data and public reporting regarding hate incidents”.

    German said that in the wake of the Atlanta shootings the justice department would now be in the spotlight.

    “Garland will be under pressure to do more. The public is concerned about hate crimes and the significant uptick in violence against Asian Americans,” he said.

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