The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

    Violent crime against Bay Area Asian communities on the rise


    Shortly after the arrival of the coronavirus deemed “COVID-19” in the United States, harassment and violence began to skyrocket against Asian and Asian-American communities. 

    Over the past week, leading up to Lunar New Year- usually a cause for celebration- crime against Asian Americans surged in the Bay Area. Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84 year old man from Thailand, died as the result of being attacked in San Francisco. 

    Across the bay from San Francisco, in Oakland, another man was arrested for the assault of three people in Oakland’s Chinatown. 

    Legislators across the country are reacting to this uptick in crime. California’s Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus described this surge in crime as a “national emergency,” while last month, President Joe Biden directed federal agencies to explore ways of combating racism and xenophobia against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. 

    Violence and harassment are not the only place where anti-Asian rhetoric and behavior has been prominent. 

    CNN reported in April 2020 that Chinese businesses, particularly restaurants, were suffering because of this. They reported that only 40 Chinese restaurants in San Francisco’s Chinatown remain in operation, out of 150 in operation prior to COVID-19. 

    This may be due to a combination of anti-asian rhetoric and casualties in the hospitality industry caused by the ongoing pandemic. In an assessment by the San Francisco Travel Association they shared that the hospitality and tourism industries were the hardest hit by the pandemic, citing a 67.4 percent decrease in money spent by tourists in the city. They estimate that recovery to pre-pandemic spending will take until at least 2025. 

    During the beginning of the pandemic, The Washington Post interviewed experts at institutions such as UCLA and UC Berkeley, who said that former President Donald Trump calling COVID-19 the ‘Chinese Virus,’or ‘Kung Flu’ possibly, “made it okay to have anti-Asian bias.”

    Sonoma State University’s President, Judy Sakaki, is the first Japanese-American woman to become the president of a four-year college or university in the United States. 

    When asked about this recent surge of prejudice against the Asian-American community, she said, “My heart, like many of those in our Seawolf family, weighs heavy with sadness. As a Japanese-American woman whose parents and grandparents were incarcerated because of their race, I know intimately how racism and hate can deform communities.” 

    Bay Area law enforcement is actively taking steps to combat crime against Asian-Americans. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office has created a special response unit which will handle crimes that fall into this category.

    The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office says the members of this response team were chosen from several units, “…because the crimes cross over between elder abuse, sexual assault, and other units.” 

    The office said that the special response team, under the direction of Special Assistant Rebecca Tse, who is from the Oakland Asian community, “will coordinate victims services and victims contact with law enforcement…members of the team speak Cantonese and Mandarin, and will be able to build trust and engagement with the victims.”

    Sophia Tsue, a student at Sonoma State University, hopes that these events will spark much-needed activism for the Asian-American community. 

    She said, “It’s not like this just started happening…but maybe this can bring on a new sense of solidarity we were missing from our BLM movement that was rekindled this summer. Maybe we can use the trendiness of social justice to our advantage and use it as a way to instigate unity and real change.”

    In response to recent events in the Bay Area, Sonoma State made a statement saying, “It is an ongoing effort to address antiracism and xenophobia and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is working collaboratively across departments to provide programs and initiatives that help engage our students, staff, and faculty in dialogue about racism.”

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