State funds approved to help remedy rise in violence against Asian Americans

On Feb. 14, thousands of people rallied in San Francisco and Oakland to protest violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. (Photo courtesy of Chinese for Affirmative Action @CAAsanfrancisco on Twitter.

Following an uptick in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans throughout the Bay Area, the California Legislature on Monday approved $1.4 million in funding to go toward tracking cases in an effort to ultimately stop them.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic nearly a year ago, an uptick in racist and xenophobic attacks against Asian Americans have been reported throughout the Bay Area and the nation, indicating an alarming trend.

Just within the last two months, several violent cases have been reported in the region, including an unprovoked attack earlier this month in San Francisco that resulted in the death of 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee, a Thai American man.

The new funding was secured by Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, who also serves as chair of the Assembly Budget Committee. The funding is part of Assembly Bill 85, a fiscal measure intended to provide more resources as part of the state’s COVID-19 response.

“The rise in hate incidents against Asian Americans during the pandemic is alarming. But we can’t solve a problem without knowing how big it is. New state funding allows the data gathering to continue, and the research will ultimately lead us to solutions that will make all communities safer,” Ting said in a statement.

“The history of the Asian American Pacific Islander community in the U.S. has been punctuated by times of racism and hate including the Chinese Exclusion Act, the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americas in World War II, the murder of Vincent Chin, hate crimes against Sikhs after 9/11, and most recently, attacks and murder of API seniors incited by racist rhetoric about the COVID pandemic,” said Dr. Richard Pan, chair of the California Asian and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus.

Last year, an initiative launched by the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, Chinese for Affirmative Action and the Asian American Studies Department at San Francisco State University began tracking cases involving hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, and bullying toward Asian Americans.

The initiative, called Stop AAPI Hate, logged more than 2,800 incidents nationwide in 2020. About 1,200 of the incidents occurred in California, according to the data.The measure still needs to be signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The measure still needs to be signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

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