Reports of hate crimes and bias incidents have increased by 366% in Oregon this year, according to a recent OPB survey of data gathered by the Oregon Department of Justice.
A portion of this increase stems from ignorant and xenophobic responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The article notes that in March, nearly 18% of reports came from members of the state’s Asian American and Pacific Islander community. In April “that number climbed to nearly 20% as fear over the coronavirus spread.”
Some of these reports involve racially-motivated refusals of service, including one incident where hotel employees denied a person service unless they could prove they’d tested negative for COVID-19. Other reports occurred in response to businesses posting signs blaming closures on “the Chinese virus,” a phrase borrowed from comments made by President Trump.
Commenting on this ugly phenomenon, Duncan Hwang, associate director of the Asian Pacific Network of Oregon, told OPB that his co-workers have reported a number of incidents in the last several days. “We see really this flip from the model minority myth around Asian Americans where Asians are doing great; education, economic attainment, all that, and then really switching back to this Yellow Peril narrative,” he said. “It happened really quickly.”
“I’m very distressed by what we’re hearing,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum told OPB. “We are not going to stand for these incidents directed at Asian American folks, including targeting people from other protected classes.”
“During these challenging times, Oregonians must come together to stop the spread of both COVID-19 and racial bias,” the state’s U.S. attorney, Billy Williams, said in a statement. “It is categorically false that certain groups of people are more susceptible to carrying the virus based on their real or perceived race or ethnicity. Spreading these untruths puts communities at risk of real physical harm and must stop.”
By JD Brookbank