Letitia James (273524)
Credit: Contributed

Amidst the generated panic from the coronavirus, hate crimes have spiked towards Asian Americans. On March 23rd Attorney Letitia James announced the launch of a hotline for New Yorkers to report hate crimes and bias based incidents following the increase of harassment reports during the pandemic.

Over the last several weeks’ reports of anti- Asian rhetoric have been on the rise. Terms like “Chinese virus”, “Wuhan virus”, and the “Kung Flu” which was said to CBS news reporter Weijia Jiang have aided in creating a stigma around the Asian-American community. “As we face an unprecedented and uncertain time for New York, the United States, and the world, we must reiterate the fact that this pandemic does not give anyone an excuse to be racist, xenophobic, or biased,” said Attorney General James.

On February 2 in a New York subway a woman was attacked by a stranger for wearing a facemask. The New York Police Department has asked the victim to report this incident to the police for a full investigation according to CNN.

“Long scapegoated and cast as “yellow peril”, Asian Americans are besieged on two fronts by the COVID-19 contagion, with outbreaks of ignorance and bigotry sometimes inflicting more harm than the virus itself,” said State Senator John Liu. “More and more hateful incidents are occurring, ranging from distasteful gestures to obnoxious name-calling to outright violence against Asian-Americans — and despicably condoned by the president himself. The battle against the coronavirus has actually brought out the best among New Yorkers but it is necessary to remind some not to let fear of the unknown devolve into irrational and inexcusable hate, and we thank beloved Attorney General Tish James for leading the charge on this front as well.”

The Coronavirus is being used as an excuse to perpetuate xenophobia and hate throughout the country and the city. The hotline serves to help support the Asian American community. The Attorney General urges those experiencing hate crimes and bias incidences to report them by emailing the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau at civil.rights@ag.ny.gov, or calling 1-800-771-7755.