COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A new report by the FBI shows that anti-Asian hate crimes rose by more than 76% last year.

This comes after the number of all hate crimes in Ohio was underreported. “This has been going on for almost two years now, and we are all suffering,” said Manjula Sankarappa, executive director of the Ohio Asian American Health Coalition.

Sankarappa says the effects of COVID have only exacerbated the number of anti-Asian hate crimes against people of her community.

“They have to understand, not everybody that looks different from them, are the cause of problems in this country,” said Sankarappa.

According to new data by the FBI, hate crimes against people of Asian descent rose by more than 76% last year, after a previous report on Ohio’s hate crime data, was underrepresented due to a technical error.
And out of the more than 8,000 hate crime incidents reported in 2020, anti-Asian bias was ranked the eighth most common motivator.

“That mimics what we’ve been seeing here in our communities. And I think a lot of it was a direct result of the pandemic,” said Dr. Gregory Lam, vice president of the Ohio Asian American Health Coalition.

Dr. Lam is a local doctor out of Dublin, who says phrases such as “kung flu” and the “China virus” have only marginalized Asian communities, and enticed hate and discrimination against people like himself.

“Very frequently I will have people that will call, and they’ll request not to see me, but to see my white partner. Or they’ll call and ask if Dr. Lam can speak English; will I be able to understand him?” said Dr. Lam.

However, organizations such as the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs, or APAPA, are working to change that.

“We are three percent of the population in Ohio, it’s like over 350,000 AAPI community members,” said Vincent Wang, chair of the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs in Columbus.

Wang says while there has been some progress toward addressing hate crimes in this country, such as the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, he believes that more can be done.

And it starts, he says, with reaching out to those around you.

“Reach out to Asian community members as well. We are neighbors, and friends, and coworkers,” said Wang.

The Department of Justice has also announced that it will award more than $21 million dollars to state, local and tribal agencies, to prevent and respond to these hate crimes.