On March 30, President Biden announced a new federal initiative aimed at curbing and helping to address the rampant spread of anti-Asian violence across the United States in recent months.
Lauren Egan of NBC News reported that President Biden will “reinstate and expand the scope of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders” issued earlier this year. Biden also directed the Department of Health and Human Services to provide $49.5 million to programs helping AAPI survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and said that the National Science Foundation will spend $33 million to study bias and xenophobia.
“The Justice Department will also establish a cross-agency initiative to respond to anti-Asian violence that will include an online tool to better study and share data about national hate crimes statistics, as well as new training for state and local law enforcement agencies to promote accurate reporting of hate crimes,” Egan reported.
During his March 11 speech, Biden said that Asian Americans have been “harassed, blamed and scapegoated” and that the violence was “wrong, it’s un-American, and it must stop.”
In a statement following Biden’s announcement, Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition addressing anti-Asian racism across the U.S., who have been tracking the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans since the start of the pandemic, endorsed the president’s new efforts.
“We commend the administration for reinstating the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and the appointment of a permanent director who will coordinate policies across the government,” Stop AAPI Hate said. “We also commend the establishment of a COVID-19 Equity Task Force, which seeks to bring a racial equity lens to addressing xenophobia and acknowledges the significant mental health concerns facing our community as a result of the rising hate. We further support the Department of Justice’s initiative to coordinate and expand civil rights protections for our community. Finally, given the devastating intersection between misogyny and anti-Asian hate, we also commend the Biden administration for providing funding for AAPI survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.”
Biden’s announcement comes even as news of continuing attacks against Asian Americans are reported on a daily basis.
On the same day of the new White House directive, NBC’s Wilson Wong reported on the story of Vilma Kari, a 65-year-old woman from the Philippines who was walking down the street in midtown Manhattan when an assailant approached, knocked her to the ground and repeatedly kicked her. The incident took place outside a luxury New York City apartment building and the surveillance video of the incident shows several male staff members of the building watching the attack but not coming to the woman’s aid.
Help identify the below individual wanted in connection to an assault. On Monday, March 29th at 11:40 AM, at 360 West 43rd St, a female, 65, was approached by an unidentified male who punched and kicked her about the body and made anti-Asian statements. Info?☎️1-800-577-TIPS. pic.twitter.com/LkwfYhMCLr
— NYPD Hate Crimes (@NYPDHateCrimes) March 29, 2021
According to Wong, “The New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the assault, and the staff members who witnessed it have been suspended.”
In a statement, the police said “the victim sustained a serious physical injury and was removed by EMS to NYU Langone Hospital,” but is now in “stable condition.”
The 38-year-old suspect identified as Brandon Elliot was arrested on March 31. According to the Associated Press’ Michael Sisak, Elliot lived at a nearby hotel that served as a homeless shelter and “was convicted of stabbing his mother to death in the Bronx in 2002, when he was 19. He was released from prison in 2019 and is on lifetime parole.”
On the same day, another video surfaced of an Asian man being repeatedly punched and then choked to unconsciousness on a crowded subway train in Brooklyn. Bystanders watched and recorded the incident on their phones yet didn’t come to the man’s aid.
These incidents add to the ongoing number of hate crimes and incidents regularly impacting Asian Americans. According to Stop AAPI Hate estimates, there have been at least 3,800 attacks on Asians reported in the U.S. in the last year alone — a number that has increased dramatically as a result of the pandemic.
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