AAPI Press Conference in St. Louis
Caroline Fan, president of the Missouri Asian American Youth Foundation, introduces St. Louis elected officials and civic leaders speaking out against a rise in hate and violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander during a press conference in St. Louis on Friday, March 19, 2021. Photo by Nassim Benchaabane, nbenchaabane@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS — More than two dozen elected officials and civic leaders gathered in City Hall on Friday to mourn a mass shooting in Atlanta that killed eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, and speak out against a steep rise in anti-Asian bigotry since the coronavirus entered the United States last year.

Between March 2020 and Feb. 8, more than 3,795 incidents of hate, discrimination and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been reported to Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition of Asian American advocacy groups, fueled by public rhetoric that sought to falsely blame Asians for the virus.

But that rhetoric, which includes phrases like “China virus” spread publicly by former President Donald Trump, follows a history of anti-Asian bigotry in the U.S. that has long gone unreported, said Caroline Fan, president of the Missouri Asian American Youth Foundation.

“For some of us, this is what we have feared ever since the beginning of the pandemic and the use of racist and xenophobic, hateful speech to describe COVID-19,” Fan said.
“For others of us, like some of the parents who are here, they’re having to have ‘the talk’ with their kids for the very first time.”

Local hate crime reporting doesn’t reflect the year’s rise in anti-Asian bigotry, Fan said, because many people of Asian descent have not felt comfortable reporting incidents out of concern of retaliation or a sense of not belonging in the U.S.

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