The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition
Confronting the New Faces of Hate: Hate Crimes in America 2009. LCCR Education Fund.

Hate Crimes Against Asian Pacific Americans

Ignorance, racism, and anti-immigrant sentiment cause hate violence targeting of Asian Pacific Americans of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Vietnamese descent, and other heritages. In 2007, 2.5 percent of all reported hate crimes (188 out of 7,624) were committed against Asian Pacific Americans, a ratio that has declined slightly relative to other groups over the past decade.

This decline obscures an extremely disturbing fact: many of these hate crimes are perpetrated against Asian Pacific American children, often by other children. In a troubling article titled "Asian Youth Persistently Harassed By U.S. Peers," the Associated Press chronicled these hate crimes committed against Asian Pacific American youth:

  • In 2005, while waiting on a subway platform in Brooklyn, New York, 18 year-old Chen Tsu was accosted by four high school classmates who demanded his money. After Tsu showed his classmates his pockets were empty, they assaulted him, taking turns beating his face. Tsu was scared and injured — bruised and swollen for several days — but hardly surprised. At his school, Lafayette High in Brooklyn, Chinese immigrant students like him are harassed and bullied so routinely that school officials in June agreed to a Department of Justice consent decree to curb alleged "severe and pervasive harassment directed at Asian-American students by their classmates." Said Tsu after his beating, "Those guys looked like they could kill somebody. ... I was scared to go back to school."

  • In South Boston, 16 year-old Vietnamese student Bang Mai was killed on July 11, 2004 in a massive brawl between white and Vietnamese youths. The basketball court brawl was the result of weeks of tension between the two groups. Mai was fatally stabbed as he attempted to walk away from the brawl. Sixteen year-old Keith E. Gillespie was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to five years in prison.38

  • In Fresno, California at Edison High School, Hmong students had been taunted and had food thrown at them during lunch. On February 25, 2005, the taunts escalated into fights involving at least 30 students, resulting in numerous injuries, suspensions, and expulsions. Eight students were convicted of misdemeanor assault.39

Across the nation, the Associated Press found that Asian students say they are often beaten, threatened, and called ethnic slurs by other young people, and school safety data suggest that the problem may be worsening. Youth advocates say these Asian teens, stereotyped as high-achieving students who rarely fight back, have for years borne the brunt of ethnic tension as Asian communities expand and neighborhoods become more racially diverse. "We suspect that in areas that have rapidly growing populations of Asian Americans, there often times is a sort of culture clashing," said Aimee Baldillo of the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium (now the Asian American Justice Center). Youth harassment is "something we see everywhere in different pockets of the U.S. where there's a large influx of (Asian) people."40

Other examples of hate crimes committed against Asian Pacific Americans include:

  • In August 2006, four New Yorkers of Chinese descent were attacked in Douglaston, Queens, New York by two white men shouting racial epithets. The white men beat two of the Chinese Americans with a steering wheel locking bar. Kevin M. Brown, 19, of Auburndale, and Paul A. Heavey, 20, of Little Neck, were charged with assault and hate crimes. Douglaston and other nearby communities are now almost one-third Asian, and tensions have escalated. "There's an undercurrent of suspicion of the new immigrant — what are they doing, what are they building, what are they putting in that store?" said Susan Seinfeld, the district manager of Community Board 11, which includes Douglaston. A local City Councilman has introduced legislation to require store owners to include English translations on signs.41

    "It definitely doesn't shock me," said one white resident of the area about the attack. "The entire strip of Northern Boulevard in the past four or five years went from German and Italian to Korean."42

  • In Chicago in September 2007, Du Doan, a 62 year-old Vietnamese man, was pushed off a fishing pier into the icy waters of Lake Michigan, where he drowned. John Haley, 31, a self-described "skinhead,"43 was charged with first degree murder after he told police how he "pushed our victim in the water — that being taking both hands, shoving them in the back, and literally catapulting him into the water." Earlier, Haley reportedly pushed a second Asian man into Lake Michigan who was able to swim safely to shore and also tried to shove a third Asian man off the pier who fought him off. Despite these reports, police did not charge Haley with a hate crime and have not classified the murder as a hate crime incident.44

Next Section: Hate Crimes Against Arab Americans, Muslims, and Sikhs

38. John R. Ellement, "Teen Gets 5-year Sentence in S. Boston Slaying," The Boston Globe, December 6, 2005.

39. Texeira, "Asian Youths Suffer Harassment in Schools."

40. Associated Press, "Asian Youth Persistently Harassed by U.S. Peers," USA Today, November 13, 2005.

41. Michelle O'Donnell, "Accusations of a Hate Crime Expose Tensions," The New York Times, August 15, 2006.

42. Id.

43. Asian American Institute, "AAI Commends Filing of Felony Murder Charge Against Killer of Du Doan," September 5, 2007.

44. C.N. Le, Asian Nation Blog, "Possible Hate Crime in Chicago," September 6, 2007.

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