US anti-Asian violence spiked during the pandemic

It’s widely known that Asian Americans felt that they were – and were in fact – persecuted during the pandemic. But the extent of this violence and its uneven geographic distribution across the US are now much clearer, thanks to research I conducted with collaborators at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the independent research firm Development Services Group.

The Asian American-Pacific Islander Equity Alliance, a nonprofit based in California, has collected reports of 10,370 “hate incidents” from March 2020 through September 2021. The categories of those incidents include verbal harassment, refusal of service at a business and online abuse, as well as assaults and property damage.

My collaborators and I looked more specifically at violent attacks against Asian Americans or their property from 1990 to 2021. In the 30 years before the pandemic, we identified public reports of 210 anti-Asian violent attacks in total, an average of 8.1 per year. But during 2020 and 2021, there were 163 attacks, averaging out to 81.5 a year – or more than 11 times the previous average.

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