SEATTLE — Attacks on Asian-Americans are on the rise. Among the targets are elders in the community. It’s happening across the country, including Seattle.
King County prosecutors have already filed five hate crime charges so far this year —two of them against Asian Americans.
On Jan. 25, one woman in Seattle was pushed on while in a crosswalk at East Denny Way and Bellevue. According to court documents, a person said to her, “Asian people need to be put in their place.”
Another incident was in West Seattle on Jan. 26, where a man pointed a realistic-looking airsoft gun at an Asian woman and yelled, “Go back to your country.”
These cases, plus other incidents from coast to coast, have people in the Asian community in fear.
“There are a lot of senior citizens in this area and sometimes they’re scared to go out,” said William Barreto, who is Filipino Chinese. “I don’t even feel safe walking one block home,” he said.
He said recently he’s also been targeted.
“They came and spit in my face in the bar and said, ‘it’s all your fault because you’re Chinese.’ And I’m like, it’s not my fault,” Barreto said.
He believes anti-Asian rhetoric about the pandemic has spurred the recent hate.
“This is part of the divisiveness of our country right now. Asian people did not do that. Just because we live in Chinatown does not mean we gave you COVID,” Barreto said.
In California’s Bay Area, surveillance video shows a 71-year-old Asian grandmother shoved to the ground, her purse stolen.
In a video that’s tough to watch, a 91-year-old man is violently pushed from behind in Oakland’s Chinatown.
A Thai-American man in New York was knocked over while out for a walk. He suffered a severe head injury and died.
“It’s just horrifying for me and having my parents being older, and how people are just taking advantage, preying on older people that really are just helpless and trying to get through the pandemic,” said Esther Xiong, who was in the CID with her family on Friday.
Anti-Asian hate crimes in Seattle spiked dramatically in 2020, going up at least 100%, based on FBI data found on the City of Seattle data dashboard.
Through October of last year, there were 42 hate crimes against people of Asian descent, compared to 21 in 2019. There were just nine in 2016.
Last November, the King County Prosecutor’s Office noted the uptick in Anti-Asian hate crimes, with motives specifically related to COVID-19.
“This is a new type of hate crime case that has been actually been referred to us in 2020, which we’ve never seen in the past,” said Leandra Craft, deputy prosecuting attorney. She said at the time the prosecutor’s office was working on expanding outreach to the Asian community.
Back in May of 2020, an Asian couple was attacked in downtown Seattle.
In another case in May of 2020, a man targeted a Thai restaurant in Ballard. Prosecutors say he also chased an Asian couple down the street in Ballard, yelling racial slurs. He was later arrested and shown to have a mental health history.
“I think it’s just horrible we actually have to experience these things,” said Kiran Matro, who was in the CID on Friday.
It all means at least for now, when Barreto has to walk home at night, he goes with someone escorting him.
“They walk me home to make sure I don’t get beat up. Because it scares me, it does,” Barreto said.
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