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Is Anti-Asian Hate on the Decline in San Francisco? Activists Aren’t So Sure

Written by Han LiPublished Jan. 12, 2023 • 6:34pm
Community members and supports march down the street during the Defend Asian Elders March in San Francisco, Calif. on Aug. 7, 2022. | Justin Katigbak for The Standard

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After a 500% increase the year prior, incidents of anti-Asian hate reported to the San Francisco Police Department dropped dramatically in 2022. While Mayor London Breed highlighted this point in the lead-up to the city’s Lunar New Year festivities, many community advocates say those numbers don’t tell the full story.

Breed cited the statistics in front of Chinatown’s Dragon Gate during Wednesday, as city officials gathered for the annual Lunar New Year press conference, urging the Asian American community to stay alert for potential crimes. 

They brought some good news, too. Breed said in her speech that the city “saw a significant decline last year” for the number of hate crimes committed against members of the Asian community.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed speaks about the significant decline of reported anti-Asian incidents in the city. | Han Li/The Standard

Breed attributed that downward trend to a coordinated effort among SFPD, the newly elected district attorney and community-based nonprofits.

However, members of the community remain cautious.

“What they don’t take into account is the non-reported hate crime that occurs on a regular basis,” said Rex Tabora, the executive director at the Asian Pacific American Community Center, based in the predominantly Asian American neighborhood of Visitacion Valley.

Tabora estimated that more than 75% of Asian people would not report the crimes they experienced unless they’re subject to serious violence. He emphasized that the Asian community from the southeastern side of the city didn’t feel any safer, and some are still afraid to go out at all.

Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition that receives self-reported anti-Asian incidents, also questioned the decline.

“Law enforcement numbers will never capture the full extent of the racism and hate our communities face,” Cynthia Choi, co-founder of platform, said in a statement to The Standard. She explained that the majority of hate incidents aren’t “crimes” under the law, and, even when they are, Asian Americans are unlikely to report them to law enforcement.

While 2022 data isn’t available yet, the platform’s 2021 data shows a sharp difference when compared with the city’s own statistics. For example, SFPD received 60 incidents in 2021, but Stop AAPI Hate recorded 479 incidents, about eight times more.

Brian Quan, the president of the Chinese American Democratic Club, urged the community to keep fighting for pushing against anti-Asian hate even with the data drop.

“Eliminating [the hate] is something that’s going to take a consistent effort,” said Quan. “We just have to remain vigilant.”

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Han Li can be reached at [email protected]


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