ABC News Live: Recent Attacks Renew Conversation on Violence Against Asian Americans

Image for ABC News Live: Recent Attacks Renew Conversation on Violence Against Asian Americans

FBI: Violence against people of Asian descent has risen 76% since 2020

Senior staff attorney of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Stanley Mark, discusses the uptick in violent crimes against people of Asian descent.

View the interview at ABC News here, or take a look at the full transcript below.

Diane Macedo: Here in New York after two Asian women were murdered within just one month, advocates are calling for action. FBI data shows hate crimes against people of Asian descent increased during the pandemic, up by 76% in 2020 in the U.S. The organization Stop Asian American and Pacific Islander Hate reported more than 10,000 hate incidents between March 2020 and September of last year. Let’s bring in Senior staff attorney of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) Stanley Mark for more on that. Stanley, thank you for being here.

You know, so far police are not calling the stabbing of Christina Lee or the killing of Michelle Go who was pushed in front of a subway car hate crimes. They say that these appear to be random acts. But we heard there in the piece that there is still fear sparked among the Asian community and particularly among Asian and Asian American women. Can you explain the dynamics at play here?

Stanley Mark: Well obviously, there’s been a spike that’s carried over from the beginning of the pandemic, since last year. Your figures indicate that there’s been a sharp rise, and that rise is due to the fact that many Asian Americans are still targets as a result of the COVID rhetoric by the former administration, but also because of the continuing anti-China rhetoric based on foreign policy and human rights issues in China. And I think that increase will continue. But the fear exists and it is real. Many folks at our office at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund and I’m sure throughout the Asian American community in the United States feel this tremendous horror and shock as well as sadness. My heart goes out to all these victims — Christina Yuna Lee and Michelle Alyssa Go — their names should be remembered.

There is no quick solution to this. On a practical level, these individuals were I believe considered mentally ill and homeless, and it would be very difficult to establish that the motive at the time of the murder or attack would be motivated by racial animus. It’s very difficult to do that unless you take this recent spike as a factor to considering that this is not the tipping point necessarily, but it has to be viewed as that. Because certainly we as Asian Americans view these attacks as hate crimes, and that it’s a part of the continuing spike and wave that’s continued through the last two years.

I think that for solutions, obviously we need more resources for culturally competent and linguistically appropriate resources for both the victims and the victims’ families as well as the perpetrators. Because there is a long list of random attacks against people, not just Asians but people across the board, dealing with this issue of homelessness and mentally ill people. I think that there has to be more resources devoted for mental health that’s provided across the board in all communities that will help more in the short term. There is a program the Governor and Mayor Adams — at the press conference when Michelle Go was attacked — both of them mentioned a program, I’m sorry I forgot the name, but it is a team of mental health professionals who would sweep into the subways and into the streets to find people in desperate need of mental health and shelter.

Diane Macedo: And Stanley, I know cities like San Francisco and New York, they’ve established taskforces and increased police presences in predominantly Asian neighborhoods. Do you think that’s been effective?

Stanley Mark: I think any type of I would say community-led types of solutions with neighborhood patrols, helping to build solidarity with neighbors and people who live in that community, looking out for each other, protecting each other, that would help. But it’s only one piece of it. That’s on a short-term, practical level to not solely rely on police presence.

However, in the long term, I think there’s a need to definitely teach Asian American history, particularly legal history, in all our schools. And we have supported the legislation now that was enacted in New Jersey, but Illinois also has that, where K through 12 will integrate Asian American curriculum. And I believe in Maryland, it’s in the state legislature. One of our board members testified in support of that legislation, and I believe that will help in the long term strategy to eliminate this anti-Asian bias, at least hopefully for the next generation of people.

Diane Macedo: Alright, Stanley Mark, we sure hope so. Thank you, Stanley.