After touring Asian-owned businesses in Howard County on Monday, Governor Lawrence J. Hogan (R) addressed the spike in violence against Asian Americans and announced that the Maryland State Police will increase patrols to protect Asian American communities and businesses.
“Asian Americans have had to deal with an additional concern that accompanied the arrival of COVID-19 — a sharp and alarming rise of racist rhetoric vitriol and harassment,” Hogan said at an afternoon press conference alongside First Lady Yumi Hogan, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball (D) and Asian American business and community leaders on “Korean Way,” a 5-mile stretch of more than 166 Korean-owned businesses on Route 40 in Ellicott City.
“Words, or the lack thereof of, matter, but words are not enough. We also need action,” Hogan said. One third of all Asian Americans said that they have experienced some form of discrimination since the pandemic began, he said.
Hogan said he instructed all state law enforcement agencies to increase patrols around Asian businesses and communities. He also said he has issued “awareness bulletins” to increase safety among Asian owned businesses, although additional details on such bulletins could not be obtained.
This action comes a week after the Atlanta-area shootings that killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women, against the backdrop of increased violence against Asian Americans during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
During Lunar New Year celebrations last month, four Asian-owned businesses in Howard County were vandalized and burglarized, Hogan noted. Some are asking their employees to travel in groups as a form of self-protection, according to Lanlan Xu, a member of Howard County Chinese School.
“The sad truth is these burglaries and the Atlanta shootings are just a tip of the iceberg. Xenophobia and discrimination against Asian Americans are widespread and rooted in the system,” Xu said.
Ball said it was everyone’s responsibility to push back against bigotry.
“It’s our collective responsibility to call out and stop the spread of this anti-Asian rhetoric because we know if left untreated, it only festers, grows and spreads,” Ball said. There are nearly 60,000 Asian Americans living in Howard County.
Hogan’s wife, Yumi Hogan, was born in South Korea. The governor shared that his youngest daughter was afraid to visit them because her friend’s mother had recently been attacked at a gas station. “All of this hits very close to home for me and my family,” he said.
Yumi Hogan reminded Marylanders that America is often celebrated for its diversity and like many others in the country, America is where Asian Americans decided to build their lives. “I’m here to lift up the voices of Asian Americans,” she said. “Our stories are American stories; American stories are our stories.”
Xu echoed the first lady’s statements, contending that hundreds of years of Asian American experiences were erased from history books, which has caused Asian Americans to be treated as “perpetual foreigners.” She urged incorporating Asian American and Pacific Islander perspectives into public school curriculums.
Hogan called on Congress to pass legislation that would improve data collection and reporting of hate crimes against Asian Americans and urged other elected officials to denounce these acts of violence. Hogan also highlighted linguistic and cultural barriers that preclude some Asian Americans from interacting with law enforcement as an issue policymakers should address.
On the Senate floor last week, Sen. Susan C. Lee (D-Montgomery), a third-generation American, rebuked disparaging statements from the last presidential term, in which phrases like “Kung Flu” and the “China virus” stoked racism towards Asian communities. Del. Lily Qi (D-Montgomery), who grew up in China, described a colleague’s affronts with racial undertones on the House floor this year in a commentary in Maryland Matters.
All hate bias incidents can be reported at Maryland’s hate crime hotline at 1-866-481-8361.