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Asian Americans have been verbally and physically attacked, shunned during pandemic, study shows

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Since coronavirus shutdowns began last March, thousands of Asian Americans have faced racist verbal and physical attacks or have been shunned by others, according to a study released Tuesday.

The study by Stop AAPI Hate documents 3,795 racially motivated attacks against Asian Americans from last March to February, noting that the number is likely a fraction of the attacks that occurred because many were not reported to the group.

Stop AAPI Hate formed last March in response to attacks related to the perception that Asians were responsible for the coronavirus because of its origins in Wuhan, China. The group did not collect data in previous years to show whether attacks against Asians have increased during the pandemic.

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About 68% of the anti-Asian attacks documented in the study were verbal harassment, 21% were shunning and 11% were physical assaults.

Another 9% were civil rights violations such as workplace discrimination or being refused service at a business. About 7% of the attacks were online harassment.

Most of the incidents occurred at businesses or on public streets.

“We ask policymakers at the local, state and national level to partner with us on implementing community-based solutions that will help ensure Asian Americans have equal rights and access to opportunities,” said Manjusha Kulkarni, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate and executive director of Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council.

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The report includes descriptions of the incidents provided by the victims.

At a subway station in Annandale, Virginia, an Asian American woman was on an escalator when a man repeatedly punched her in the back and followed her, fake coughing and shouting “Chinese …” and then an obscenity.

In an example of shunning, a ride hailing driver in Las Vegas said to an Asian American rider, “Another Asian riding with me today, I hope you don’t have any COVID” while leaning away from the rider. The driver also told the person not to request any more rides from anybody.

More than two-thirds of the racial attacks in the study were reported by women. More than 40% of the attacks were reported by Chinese Americans, 15% by Korean Americans and 8% by Filipino Americans.

“We need to reckon with both the historical and ongoing impact that racism, hate and violence are having on our community, especially on women, youth and seniors, who are particularly vulnerable,” said Cynthia Choi, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate and co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action.

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