LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Chris Kwon said he is still haunted by an incident that happened while he was on his way to work in late February.
“While I was getting off the train, and in the station, I had a big of a cough,” he said.
Kwon, who was wearing a mask at the time, said that was when a woman started yelling, cursing and hurling racial slurs at him.
“I’m kind of afraid of what’s going to be happening in the near future,” Kwon said. “Nobody turned around, or nobody came up and defended me.”
And Kwon is not the only one sharing his experience.
Mel, who lives in Pasadena, posted on Facebook about a frightening incident involving a motorcyclist just blocks away from his home.
“You brought this disease here, and he’s just cussing at me and cussing at us,” he said. “And he runs us off the sidewalk and blocks us into this alcove and he’s just threatening us.”
The group Asian Americans Advancing Justice estimates that there have been 2,000 incidents like these, and worse, across the country since the coronavirus pandemic began, and a recent survey by Ipsos and the Center for Public Integrity found that 32% of Americans have witnessed someone blaming people of Asian descent for the virus.
That number, though, jumps to 60% when it comes to Asian Americans who have reported witnessing the same thing.
“Asian Americans are trying to avoid getting the virus, but they’re also trying to avoid being attacked for being Asian American,” Stewart Kwoh, founder of AAJC, said.
The issue was addressed in a Zoom meeting called by Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer on Wednesday. Feuer said hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have increased during the pandemic.
“All of us are worried about getting the disease right now,” Manjusha Kulkarni, the executive director of an Asian Pacific advocacy group, said on that call. “On top of that, they now have to be worried about being verbally assaulted or physically attacked at their grocery store, at the pharmacy, even on walks in their neighborhoods.”
Officials said one hurdle in battling the increase in hate crimes is that people have not been reporting incidents as they happen, either out of fear for their own safety or the belief that nothing will be done about it, and encouraged victims or those who have witnessed similar incidents to report them.