Reported hate crimes against Asian Americans in the nation’s 16 largest cities jumped 164% in early 2021, according to a new study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
The study found 95 anti-Asian hate crimes reported to the police in the first quarter of 2021, up from 36 reported incidents in the first quarter of 2020.
New York City reported the highest surge in anti-Asian hate crimes in early 2021 as the number of reported incidents rose to 42 compared to 13 during the same period last year, a 223% increase.
San Francisco followed with 12 reported incidents compared to five from the same period last year for a 140% increase and Los Angeles reported an 80% increase with nine hate crimes, compared to five during the same period last year.
“This year’s first quarter increase follows a historic surge in Anti-Asian hate crime that started last year,” researchers wrote. “Last year’s first spike occurred in March and April amidst a rise in COVID cases, a World Health Organization pandemic declaration, and an increase in political and online stigmatizing of Asians.”
The Center’s researchers counted 122 incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes in the same 16 cities for all of 2020, itself a 150% increase over 2019, meaning that the surge in early 2021 is building off an already high base.
The numbers outlined in the study are based on reports filed with local police departments.
It is likely the actual number of hate crimes against Asian Americans in those cities is much higher. Hate crime reporting is sparse in general, but even more so in the Asian American community. Language barriers and distrust of law enforcement are among the reasons Asian Americans are reluctant to report hate crimes.
Asian American advocacy groups maintain underreporting hate crimes has made it difficult to capture how widespread incidents have become since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Stop AAPI Hate estimates there were 3,800 such incidents in 2020, but that includes episodes of bias that would not rise to the level of a crime.
Asian American groups and Democrats have blamed the string of attacks on former President Donald Trump’s blaming China for the coronavirus. He repeatedly referred to the pandemic using racist terms.