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Sharp rise in anti-Asian hate crimes observed during the Covid-19 pandemic

TW: racism, hate crimes

With the Covid-19 pandemic and language such as ‘Chinese virus’ becoming widely used terms, anti-Asian racism has risen to the extreme. 

On 16 March, a mass shooting took place in Atlanta, Georgia with eight people killed – six of them being Asian-American women. 

The gunman had posted a Facebook status prior to the shooting blaming Chinese individuals for the spread of Covid-19, leading many to label the attack as an act of white supremacy and terrorism. 

Protests have kicked off around the US and the rest of the world in reaction to this as well as the overall rise in related hate crimes. 

Since the start of the pandemic a rhetoric surrounding East and South East Asian people and the spread of the virus has been perpetuated by anti-Asian language and imagery. 

The former US president himself has been known to call Covid-19 “the Chinese virus”. 

Furthermore, this hatred has not been US specific, with a Southampton university lecturer assaulted while jogging and told to “go home” last month.  

Last December there was also an anti-Asian racist attack on a fourth-year student outside the university library which was deemed an “appalling incident” by the university. 

Around Edinburgh, non-students have also experienced attacks, with one mum being physically assaulted on Rose Street whilst walking with her two young children last November. 

Police Scotland have reported 474 hate crimes against East and South East Asian people between January and December 2020 compared to 316 the previous year – a rise of around 50 per cent. 

The grassroots movement Racism Unmasked has attempted to raise awareness to this rise in racism towards East and South East Asian people around Edinburgh.

The group released a statement surrounding the recent shooting.

“The gaslighting, denial, scapegoating, violence, dismissiveness is not new to our community. 

“Our hearts break for those who have lost their lives, and for their families.” 

They work to raise awareness by allowing affected individuals to post about attacks anonymously on Instagram. 

One anonymous incident they have reported has been: “I was shouted at by two men on the bus, calling me ‘a virus’ and ‘ch*nky’, no one stepped in.”

Allie De Lacy, the co-founder of Racism Unmasked has commented: “People are starting to treat us like a disease and an extension of the disease.

“We have an estimate that racial attacks have increased by up to 300 per cent within the UK but that’s just cases that have been reported.” 

The Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Campaign has sought to provide a safe space as a part of EUSA for BME students.

The BME Liberation Officer, Amanda Ngobeni, has also spoken out regarding the rising attacks: 

“Alongside the Sabbatical Officer team, I have worked to continuously raise the issue of safety and support for students who are the targets of racist attacks, including Asian students.” 

She also discussed the University’s handling of BME support and safety: 

“I am frustrated that despite frequent conversations and recommendations from the BME Campaign the University has not acted in the best interest of BME student safety and wellbeing, particularly regarding rolling out a fully funded and fully staffed Report and Support platform for students who have experienced racism.”

She ended with a final statement to Asian students who have experienced this abuse: 

“I would like to extend my offer of support of solidarity to Asian students who have been subject to a racist attack or incident.” 

Image: via famvin.org