Reports of Asian American Hate Crimes Increased Because of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the lives of millions of people across the world. Due to unsubstantiated rumors about the origin of the virus, many Asian families have experienced added stress during the pandemic due to an increase in hate crimes. These acts of prejudice and violence have been rampant as a result of American politicians, and their supporters, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic as the “China Virus.”
Since the start of the nationwide lockdown in March of 2020, reports of anti-Asian hate crimes have risen 150%, with more than 2,800 reported instances of targeted harassment towards Asian Americans. These troubling statistics have introduced many challenges for Asian families, making it difficult to live normal lives while experiencing recurring discrimination and hate.
What is a Hate Crime?
The legal definition of a hate crime, also known as a bias crime, is an illegal act committed or attempted with prejudice as a leading motivation. The perpetrator commits these actions against one or more victims who belong to certain races or social groups, including specific religions, sexualities, or gender identities. Common types of hate crimes include:
- Physical assault
- Verbal abuse
- Property damage
- Sexual abuse
It can be difficult for Asian American families to completely protect themselves and their loved ones against racially-based hate crimes, even if they never leave the house. Reports from 2019 indicate that over 1000 victims of hate crimes in the United States experienced an attack while in their own homes.
Many attacks and incidents of hate crimes against Asian Americans and their families go unreported to local law enforcement. An analysis by the Justice Department found that police departments across the United States received only 7,134 cases of hate crimes in 2019. However, when victims were asked individually, they reported more than 200,000 hate crimes.
Commonly, these racially charged attacks involve minor vandalism or assault, but Asian American families often refrain from contacting law enforcement during instances of these hate crimes, since many believe that police departments across the country are not equipped to either recognize or properly manage those incidents.
Recent Attacks on Asian Americans
When nationwide lockdown procedures went into effect in March of 2020, misinformation and rumors about the origin of the virus were common. American political leaders used harmful rhetoric that led to an increase in the harassment and mistreatment of Asian Americans which ranged from verbal attacks to boycotts of Asian takeout restaurants.
In March of 2021, three different mass shootings occurred at Asian-run spas and massage parlors in Atlanta, Georgia. These attacks left eight people dead and even more injured. The community of Asian American’s living in the United States has actively sought to reduce racial harassment through the viral hashtag #StopAsianHate, which aims to correct and discourage prejudiced behavior against the Asian American community.
An organization called Stop AAPI Hate recently released data recorded from March 2020 to February 2021 that ranks Florida as eighth in the nation for reported anti-Asian American incidents. Stop AAPI Hate, which refers to Asian American’s and Pacific Islanders, hopes to spread awareness and concern about the recent rise in anti-Asian American attacks.
Penalties for Hate Crime Convictions
Florida has introduced laws that increase the punishment and penalties lobbied against groups or individuals who perpetrate or attempt to commit hate crimes against anyone in a protected class. Depending on the severity of the actions planned or executed, legal consequences may include penalties such as:
- Fines and fees
- Community service
- Loss of rights to own a weapon
- Loss of rights to vote
- Court-mandated counseling
The racially motivated nature of the criminal in question dictates how they will be charged in court. These actions are classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony, ranging from the first to the third degree. Sentencing for these offenses can cause irreparable damage to an individual’s personal life and may affect their ability to retain employment or maintain a relationship with their family and loved ones.
Contact a Trusted Criminal Defense Attorney in Orlando
If you are facing a potential charge for a racially motivated hate crime in Florida, it is necessary to have a reliable attorney on your side who can help to protect your rights and your reputation.
Here at The Umansky Law Firm, we specialize in working with serious cases of criminal defense that could result in misdemeanor or felony convictions. Our team of experienced attorneys knows just how sensitive cases like this can be and we are dedicated to providing our clients in Orlando with a strong defense.
For more information, call us today at or reach out to us online to schedule a case consultation with one of our knowledgeable legal professionals.