Anti-Asian hate crimes surged 76 percent in the Los Angeles area last year as similar attacks increased around the country following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Three-quarters of the 44 anti-Asian hate crimes reported in Los Angeles County in 2020 involved physical violence, an increase from 58 percent in 2018, according to a report from the County of Los Angeles Commission on Human Relations released Wednesday.
The 44 reported hate crimes are on par with 2001, when there were 42 reported anti-Asian hate crimes following the Sept. 11 attacks, according to the report.
Asian Americans make up 15 percent of the Los Angeles County population and accounted for 11 percent of the county's racial hate crimes in 2020, the report stated. However, the commission notes that they believe under-reporting of hate crimes in the Asian community is a significant problem due to language and culture barriers, immigration status and a limited knowledge of the criminal justice system, among other factors.
In 23 percent of the crimes, the perpetrators explicitly blamed the victims for COVID-19, the report said.
In one specific incident in March 2020 detailed in the report, a Chinese man was sitting in his car outside a store when two Latino males started pointing at him and laughing. One of the suspects yelled that the Chinese man was "a dirty Asian and has Corona virus."
The report from Los Angeles County follows other studies that showed the disturbing trend of anti-Asian violence picking up around the United States. A report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism in April found that anti-Asian hate crimes in major U.S. cities increased 169 percent in the first quarter of 2021 over the same period in the previous year.
Democrats have put some of the blame for the rise in hate crimes on former President Trump for his rhetoric in the early days of the pandemic, when he referred to the coronavirus as as the "China virus" and "kung flu."
President BidenJoe BidenBiden says he didn't 'overpromise' Finland PM pledges 'extremely tough' sanctions should Russia invade Ukraine Russia: Nothing less than NATO expansion ban is acceptable MORE signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law in May as part of a push to improve crime tracking and reporting following the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes.