13 Weeks, 832 Reports: COVID-19-Related Hate Against California’s Asian Americans Continues

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Jul 07, 2020

Over three months, since the novel coronavirus became daily news, California’s Asian American residents have reported hate incidents against them because of their race about 10 times a day, totaling more than 800 complaints, the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON) confirmed in a recent report. The hate has gotten so out of hand that leaders are now demanding that California Governor Gavin Newsom hire a cultural representative for his new COVID-19 task force and increase funding for programs that fight racism, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“Asian Americans need to see concrete actions and we’re here to work with the state to ensure that we can live free from racial discrimination and enjoy equal rights and access,” Manjusha Kulkarni, executive director of A3PCON and a founder of Stop AAPI Hate, told the LA Times.

A3PCON, Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) and the Asian American Studies Department of San Francisco State University launched Stop AAPI Hate in March to collect and track reports of xenophobia, harassment or outright violence against California’s Asian American and Pacific islander community. 

And as of July 1, Stop AAPI Hate has received a total of 832 complaints across the entire state, including 81 incidents of assault and 64 potential civil rights violations. The report points to a battery of attacks lobbed at random community members by Torrance’s 54-year-old Lena Hernandez, who can be seen in a viral video [Trigger Warning: Video shows disgusting racist behavior], shared by an ABC7 anchor on Twitter, screaming at a woman exercising that, “We do not want you here.”

The serial racist ranter, who has reportedly also physically assaulted people, was arrested on July 3 and charged with battery from an incident with a different woman at Del Amo Fashion Center in October 2019, the LA Times reported. Torrance’s population is more than one-third Asian.

With people like Hernandez on the prowl, advocates are said to have asked Newsom for $1.4 million to research how the novel coronavirus hate-fueled culture effects the health of members of the community and to create an investigative racial bias team. California’s most updated budget summary, however, doesn’t even mention hate crimes.

“The viral video of racism in Torrance is one example of hundreds. It’s the tip of the iceberg of anti-Asian American hate and discrimination,” Russell Jeung, chair of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University said in a statement. “Without government accountability, we risk COVID-19-related racism against Asian Americans becoming deeply entrenched, ultimately impacting the lives of millions of people in California and around the country.”

To learn more about the spike in hate and what community members are doing about it, watch the LA Times video below, which also features Jeung: