Violence Against Asian Americans Requires Harsher Punishments


Sean Yang, Staff Writer

A hate crime is a crime in which the main motivation of the crime is based on race, religion, or sexual orientation. In the past few weeks, violence against Asians seems to have become a common occurrence as new cases of heinous acts appear every week. According to the California State University’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, there has been an increase of over 150% in Asian-targeted violence compared to last year. Even though many of these cases have appeared on mainstream media, none of the acts have been considered hate crimes yet. This needs to change; Asian-targeted violence needs more attention to be drawn toward the problem in order for more severe punishments to be dealt to any perpetrators. 

The main reason that the acts are not considered hate crimes is because there is no outstanding evidence that the ethnicity of the victim was what brought about the violence. However, with so many cases concerning Asian Americans, the trend is pretty clear. Even though Asian Americans are being vocal about the issue, they have been unable to convince the prosecutors to pursue more action.

This is due to the fact that hate crimes are usually harder to prove in court. It is much easier to charge someone with assault or criminal behavior than for a hate crime, as the prosecutor has to prove that the defendant not only acted with malicious intent but also because of a specific reason: race, in these cases. In fear of losing their case, prosecutors will often stray away from the topic of hate crimes, as criminal charges will give them a guaranteed win in court. Hate crimes will garner a more severe punishment than an ordinary criminal charge as bias against ethnicity is involved.

Even so, this is exactly why this violence needs to be considered a hate crime. Perpetrators must be prosecuted for hate crimes so that people will stray away from Asian violence. The public needs to know that there will be severe punishments for violence against Asian Americans so that further violence can be prevented.

An extreme case of violence occurred just last month in New York City when a 36-year-old Chinese American was stabbed in the back while walking home. Even a case this severe was originally not considered a hate crime, but this later changed after public outrage. It was originally not considered a hate crime because the suspect turned himself in, claiming that ethnicity was not the main reason why he murdered the man. His claim was disproved when the police station told the public that the suspect and victim had no relationship.

In another event that occurred on Mar. 16, a 21-year-old white gunman went to three different massage spas and killed eight people in Atlanta, Georgia. Six of the victims were of Asian descent, four of whom were South Korean. The police initially stated that the attacks were not racially motivated, but investigations are still ongoing. Popular Asian celebrities like Mindy Kaling and Simu Liu have shown their outrage over this act of violence over social media and are pushing for the perpetrator to be prosecuted for committing a hate crime.

A study from Stop Asian American Pacific Islander Hate has also recorded 3,795 attacks against Asian Americans that were all motivated by the victims’ ethnicity. The report also shows that Chinese Americans are the largest ethnic group that is reporting hate with 42.2% of reports, while Koreans are second with 14.8%. These cases are not even close to the total number of hate crimes being committed, as not all crimes are reported. 

The group most affected by this is the senior community as members of this group are the most vulnerable when it comes to defending themselves if they were targeted. In February, there was a case of a 64-year-old grandmother who was robbed on Lunar New Year while withdrawing money from an ATM in San Jose.

In conclusion, more efforts need to be made concerning the violence against Asian Americans. It is not right for a person to be mistreated because of their ethnicity. Asian Americans are not a virus. Racism is.


Photo courtesy of TIME.COM