Coronavirus: Local boy bullied, attacked, targeted just because he's Asian, officials say

Denise Dador Image
Saturday, February 15, 2020
LA leaders concerned coronavirus fears fueling anti-Asian racism
Rising backlash due to fears over the novel coronavirus prompted community and political leaders in L.A. to take a stand.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- In a show of unity, leaders from the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and Los Angeles County public officials are standing up to racism surrounding the recent novel coronavirus scare.

The latest target is a young boy from the San Fernando Valley.

"A young person was bullied in his middle school, physically attacked and accused of having the coronavirus simply because he was Asian American," said Manjusha Kulkarni, the Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council.

"He went to the hospital originally and went to the emergency room," said Robin Toma, the Executive Director of the L.A. County Human Relations Commission. "They were taking MRIs to ensure he didn't have a concussion or other harm."

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The family of this young boy is afraid to speak out. Rising backlash due to fears over the novel coronavirus prompted leaders from the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities to take a stand.

"We need to speak out against this and not be bystanders. We need to be upstanders," Toma said.

L.A. County public officials say API communities are being attacked both physically and verbally. And many API-owned businesses are the target of lies and misinformation.

"Anyone that discriminates in that manner and puts out false information should be investigated, " L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis said. "And I understand the FBI is launching an investigation."

Toma says the coronavirus scare combined with people's existing prejudices has led to a rise in hostility.

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"Many may be quick to assume that just because someone is Asian or from China that somehow they are more likely to be carriers of the virus," he said.

"The whole concept of the yellow peril, which began historically, I mean, all Asians have been identified all kinds of diseases like typhus and diseases that stem from poverty and overcrowding," Mariko Kahn, Executive Director of Pacific Asian Counseling Services, said.

"Children hear this from their parents. Hate is something children learn," Debra Duardo, L.A. County Superintendent of Schools, said. "It doesn't come naturally to them."

Officials are urging people to remember that the situation in the U.S. is far different than what's happening in mainland China.

Asian American community leaders want to stress that hate crimes or verbal abuse because of the coronavirus will not be tolerated in L.A. County, and If you're being abused, you need to report it.

"When you see it, say it and call," Solis said. "And you can call the L.A. County hotline, 211."