SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The mayor of San Francisco expressed despair over the increase in reported hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) last year, up an astonishing 567% from the previous year, according to preliminary figures released by the police department on Jan. 25.
Mayor London Breed pledged continued support for the community, saying she suspects actual numbers are much higher because people are reluctant to report to the police. The initial count shows 60 victims in 2021, up from nine in 2020. Half of last year’s victims were allegedly targeted by one man.
It would have broken her heart if the grandmother who raised her had been attacked “in the way that we see so many of our seniors of the AAPI community being attacked,” Breed said at a news conference. “But that did not happen. Because as a community we protected one another. And that’s what we have to do now more than ever.”
Hateful attacks against the AAPI community surged nationally during the pandemic, fueled in part by then-President Donald Trump’s calling COVID-19 a derogatory nickname that insulted China.
In San Francisco and elsewhere, video clips of Asian Americans being attacked and robbed on public streets alarmed the community so much that frightened seniors stayed home.
Most recently, former San Francisco Bay Area resident Michelle Go died in New York City after a mentally disturbed man pushed her in front of a subway. Officials there say there is no indication the man was motivated by racial bias, but AAPIs are still rattled.
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said at the Jan. 25 news conference they have expanded the crime tip line to include more languages and are sharing safety tips for Lunar New Year celebrations. But he also acknowledged his department is only part of a criminal justice system that includes prosecution and judges.