Media calls to #StopAsianHate, ignores victimization of California Asian-American communities

March 19, 2021

By Stephanie H. Freedman

The world watched in horror as news reports came out regarding the devastating shooting in the Atlanta nail salon. Media from across the country joined in the national outrage by reporting on the issue of anti-Asian-American crimes across the nation. 

New York Times wrote a story headlined, “Californians Fear More Anti-Asian Attacks After Georgia Killings.” The Los Angeles Times reported after the attack that “Asian Americans have been verbally and physically attacked, shunned during pandemic, study shows”. 

This rising concern was taking place before this week’s tragic shooting. In February, ABC speculated that hate crimes against Asian-Americans are on the rise and asked, “Where do we go from here?” CNN applauded “California for allocating $1.4 million to track and stop attacks against Asian Americans.” KCRA covered that California state lawmakers “introduce bills to combat anti-Asian hate crimes.” National news reported in horror on the robbery of an Asian man at a San Francisco laundromat that took place in February. 

But the collective media coverage did not indicate the California legislature decided to pass a bill a day after the horrendous crimes that “lowers penalties against crimes that affect the Asian-American community”, according to concerned community leaders. 

California Senate Bill 82, which passed out of committee on Wednesday, seeks to “redefine” robbery to first-degree petty theft – something that state district attorneys say is barely a “slap on the wrist” for robbery crimes and will “declare open season on victims” in California.

Asian-American community and business leaders from the bill author’s district, spoke out before the bill hearing, saying that “many of the recent robberies caught on tape targeting Asian seniors would be reclassified as petty thefts.” Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce members called the bill “tone-deaf” and said that “most counties don’t prosecute petty theft cases” that will terrorize Asian-American communities. 

While a few media outlets quietly covered the community concerns, the national media outrage that has dominated headlines this week seemed to stop at this bill passage. The bill was referred to the next step in the legislative process.



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