by Xinhua writers Liu Yanan, Zhang Mocheng
NEW YORK, May 13 (Xinhua) -- About two and a half years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has seen not only an increase in infections and deaths, but also an orgy of racism and hate crimes against minority groups, particularly the Asian-American community.
Following an apparently random yet violent murder of a young Korean-American woman in a Chinatown apartment here in February, mourners placed flowers, candles, photos, and cardboard signs condemning anti-Asian hatred around a tree outside the residential building where Christina Yuna Lee was stabbed to death.
While the shock of Lee's death had yet to wear off, mourners were outraged that the makeshift memorial for Lee had been repeatedly vandalized.
The temporary memorial was first vandalized in the middle of the night just three days after Lee's death, and it continued to be vandalized even in broad daylight.
"So five times last month, and it just keeps increasing. It is very sad," Brian Chin, Lee's former landlord, told Xinhua.
According to video clips from a surveillance camera shared by Chin, a man kicked at the flowers, candles, and signs in the early morning on March 2, and another pedestrian pulled down a cardboard sign about a week later.
Every attack on the memorial is pretty much anti-Asian and "it is very scary right now," said Chin, whose family came to the United States from China over 60 years ago.
"They're doing it with hate. They see her picture. They see the flowers and candles," Chin added.
Lee's tragic death followed the fatal shoving of Asian American Michelle Alyssa Go onto subway tracks by a man at Times Square station on Jan. 15 and the death of Yaopan Ma in January in a racially motivated attack in East Harlem.
"Her (Lee's) death is part of an alarming pattern of unchecked, hateful violence against women, namely women of Asian descent and women of color that can no longer stand without consequence," said one of Lee's relatives in an appeal on Gofundme.com.
For Chin, a middle-aged man, the continued anti-Asian hate crimes had brought about unprecedented depression.
"I think everyone is terrified right now that they will be attacked on the subways, on the streets, and then the guy will be out on the same day," he said.
According to Chin, this wave of anti-Asian hatred began with very vitriolic language which claims COVID-19 as the so-called "Chinese flu" or "Wuhan flu."
Kathleen Flynn-hui, whose husband originally came from Hong Kong, said that anti-Asian prejudice affects her family on a daily basis.
"We've kind of always felt it, but not as strongly as now," said Flynn-hui, adding that she "dealt with discrimination against my husband because he was Asian the whole time."
Chin said the situation is deteriorating due to a combination of politics, the impact of new laws, and the new Manhattan District Attorney's lenient stance on crime.
"The cops are doing their job, but they arrest them, and they're free the next day due to the laws," said Chin.
Right now, much stronger laws are needed to protect the Asian community, Chin said, calling on lawmakers, the city council, and the mayor to take stronger and more enforceable action.
The Committee of 100, a non-profit leadership organization of prominent Chinese Americans, recently called on U.S. elected officials, law enforcement, and responsible media to address racism, discrimination, and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders immediately with actionable and concrete results. ■