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Almost two and a half years after the COVID-19 pandemic started in the United States and despite all their efforts to stop anti-Asian American hate incidents, people of Chinese and Asian descent in San Francisco said they still live in fear.
According to China Daily, since being attacked on a bus and suffering a head injury in April, Amy Li, who lives in San Francisco’s Chinatown, said she still sees the offender in her neighborhood almost every day.
“I’ve reported this case to the police and haven’t heard anything,” Li said at a town hall meeting last week. “Every day my son and I live in fear.”
Some Asian Americans protect themselves when law enforcement doesn’t
Gun ownership rates have soared during the pandemic, as more than 5 million people became first-time owners, according to the trade organization National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). As videos of anti-Asian American violence began flooding social media and cable news, gun sales to Asian Americans, though still significantly lower than those of other racial groups, rose by an estimated 43%.
During the pandemic, a host of Asian American affinity groups have emerged in southern California to provide resources and a sense of community to new gun owners. Tom Nguyen founded LA Progressive Shooters to provide firearms education to people of color, after seeing a “massive increase in first time gun owners,” particularly single women and queer people.
Data on firearm use among Asian Americans is limited, as the group, which comprises about 7% of the US population, has historically had low gun ownership rates. According to The Guardian, from 2015 to 2019, FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report documented 37 justifiable firearm homicides committed by Asian Americans. By contrast, more than 3,000 Asian Americans died in firearm suicides, homicides and accidental shootings during the same time period.
Among Asian American youth, the firearm suicide rate rose by 71% over the last decade – the largest growth of any racial or ethnic group, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Little Saigon area has seen a serious spike in robberies and shootings this year. “Little Saigon, located in the Eastlake neighborhood around International Boulevard and East 12th Street, experienced a 10% increase in robberies between July 2021 and July 2022, from 42 to 46,” according to the Chronicle. “The neighborhood also had a 33% increase in shootings in the same time period, rising from 18 to 24. There was also a 50% increase in aggravated assaults in the same time period — from eight to 12.”
An Asian woman was killed on Sunday in Oakland in latest attack.
According to the San Franciscoist, a 60-year-old Asian woman was shot and killed in a 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon robbery near Laney College, and Oakland councilmembers are decrying a spike in violence in the Little Saigon neighborhood.
Several Oakland councilmembers spoke up on Twitter to condemn the recent violence against Asian seniors. The district’s council representative Nikki Fortunado Bas said in a subsequent tweet to the thread above, “What does it say about our community when we cannot walk down our own street, visit a neighbor, or enjoy a picnic on the Lake on a Sunday afternoon? We can/must do better.”
Asian Hate has been pervasive throughout America
The Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, a nonprofit organization that specializes in nonpartisan data collection and research, released a study in May that revealed that most Asian Oregonians fear for their safety.
“The numbers aren’t good,” says Amaury Vogel, the associate executive director of OVBC. “49% of Asian Oregonians say that they or a family member have experienced someone using a racial slur, epithet, or degrading language against them.”
Between March 2020 and March 2022, more than 11,400 hate incidents against Asian Americans have been reported across the United States, according to a report by Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition that tracks such incidents and advocates for combatting hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
The findings signaled a persistent rise in harassment, verbal abuse and hate speech that have plagued Asian communities since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, the group identified more than 9,000 hate incidents in the pandemic’s first year. A separate study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found that hate crimes against Asian Americans rose 339% nationally between 2020 and 2021.