By Ji Hyun Lim
The 1999 Audit of Violence Against Asian Pacific Americans reports that in 1993, there were 155 reported hate crimes incidents, and in 1994 the number increased to 452. After that, reported incidences of hate crimes from 1994 to 1999 remained somewhat level.
Although the statistics show that hate crimes in 1999 increased 12 percent from the previous year, that number may be misleading. According to NAPALC, many states dont adequately track the data and many victims dont report the crimes.
Moreover, the San Francisco Police Department Hate Crimes Unit states that, 80 percent of hate crime perpetrators are never caught. Because victims of hate crimes often choose to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, authorities are unable to address the offenses.
Without more accurate statistics on these crimes, prevention and education is difficult and as the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium (NAPALC) points out, Ignorance translates into the view of Asian Americans as perpetual foreigners, [making] them especially vulnerable to xenophobic attacks.
What is a hate crime?
Because of the loose definition of hate crimes, many offenses are not categorized accordingly. The federal Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990 defines hate crimes as crimes that manifest evidence of murder, non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, aggravated assault, simple assault, intimidation, arson and destruction, damage or vandalism of property.
According to Nora Ramos of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California, If [an individual] says a racial epithet to you without a threat, it doesnt actually constitute a hate crime. However, if a racial slur is accompanied by some other type of intimidation and you feel your life is threatened, then it is considered a hate crime.
Certain law enforcement bodies record hate crime incidents in order to see patterns in a particular establishment or individuals. This would allow a frame of reference in case future incidents occur. A man who has a history of uttering racial slurs and threats is more likely to be convicted of a hate crime if he has had previous recorded encounters with other individuals.
Said Ramos: We try to encourage people to report the hate incidents because it could lead up to policy changes whether its in a school or a public establishment.
If you think you are a victim. . .
It is important to report all possible cases of personal attacks based on ethnicity and culture., The APA Legal Center of Southern California advises victims of hate crimes to take the following steps:
- If you are hurt, seek medical attention right away (call 9-1-1).
- Contact a community-based organization for advice.
- Contact the district attorneys office or local city attorneys office for possible compensation for costs.
- Document the crime (take photographs, record when it happened and any details of the confrontation).
- Seek witnesses of the crime scene.
Resources for victims
- National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium
- Asian Law Caucus
- Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
- Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California