State Watch

New York AG launches hotline to report coronavirus hate crimes, xenophobia against Asian Americans

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New York Attorney General Letitia James launched a hotline this week for people to report hate crimes and biased incidents against Asian Americans during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

James said in a statement that the COVID-19 outbreak “does not give anyone an excuse to be racist, xenophobic, or biased.”

“No one should live in fear for their life because of who they are, what they look like, or where they come from,” James said. “I encourage all victims of discriminatory actions stemming from this pandemic to contact my office. We will continue to work with local law enforcement to combat hate in all its insidious forms.”

New Yorkers experiencing hate crimes or biased incidents can report them by emailing, or calling 1-800-771-7755. 

Reported harassment and physical assaults against Asian Americans has risen as the virus — which was first reported in Wuhan, China, last December — spreads across the globe.

The New York Times on Sunday reported that a young Chinese woman who moved to the U.S. five years ago said a middle-aged man spat at her as she waited to cross the street.

A spike in anti-Asian rhetoric, particularly through the use of terms such as “Chinese virus,” has been noted by James’s office. 

Social media mentions promoting anti-Chinese rhetoric soared online in recent weeks since GOP lawmakers have referred to the coronavirus as a “foreign” and Chinese disease, according to a new analysis by a Washington think tank.

President Trump on Monday expressed support for Asian Americans after repeatedly using the phrase “Chinese virus.”

“It is very important that we totally protect our Asian American community in the United States, and all around the world,” Trump tweeted. “They are amazing people, and the spreading of the Virus is NOT their fault in any way, shape, or form. They are working closely with us to get rid of it. WE WILL PREVAIL TOGETHER!”

Trump last week denied that the term can create a stigma around Asian Americans.

“It’s not racist at all. No. Not at all,” Trump told reporters. “It comes from China. That’s why. It comes from China. I want to be accurate.”

Several other Republican leaders, including Rep. Paul Gosar (Ariz.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), have referred to the coronavirus as the “Wuhan virus” or the “Chinese coronavirus.”

Global health experts have condemned the use of those terms to describe the pandemic, which has since spread to 172 countries and regions.

“Viruses know no borders and they don’t care about your ethnicity, the color of your skin or how much money you have in the bank,” said Mike Ryan, the executive director of the World Health Organization’s Emergencies Program. 

There have been 441,187 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 19,784 deaths as of Tuesday afternoon, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Tags Kevin McCarthy Paul Gosar

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