Chicago’s Chinatown still concerned about rising hate crimes – CBS Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) — Monday marked two years since the first case of COVID in Illinois.

A woman from Illinois, originally from China, had just returned from Wuhan. This case and others like it sparked hate crimes in Chicago and across the country.

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As CBS 2’s Chris Tye explains, the fear of reprisal remains so real that some cultural institutions in the region have remained closed for years out of fear.

In Chinatown, there is still a concern about personal safety, especially among older Asian Americans. It’s a concern that began at the start of the pandemic but continues to this day.

“These are very real concerns that a lot of people have.”

Some Buddhist temples in Chicago have been closed since the start of the pandemic for two years. Part is concern over COVID, part fear of retaliation from pockets of the community who blame Asian Americans for the pandemic.

“My parents live in the Bay Area, they’re always afraid to be in public spaces, always afraid to go out,” said Catherine Shieh of Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago.

In Chicago, that fear was amplified last month with the shooting death of 71-year-old Woom Sing Tse in Chinatown.

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“It’s not just that the hate has disappeared. It’s not that we have less impact. I think some of them have transformed. I think there’s more reporting two years ago and less reporting now,” Shieh said.

A report by “Stop Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Hate” found that one in five Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has experienced a hate incident in the past year.

Chicago police track hate crimes by race. For three years from 2018, the city saw two anti-Asian hate crimes a year. Last year it rose to seven.

“Using terms like Wuhan virus or Kung-Flu.”

Catherine Shieh, of Asian American Advancing Justice Chicago, said language was followed by action, often violence, but inaction by leaders needed to change.

“It’s easy to lose sight of what’s going on. And it’s easy to believe that if it’s not reported in the news, the problem must be solved,” Shieh said.

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Crime stories often end with a wake or funeral. Insiders said that needs to change with politics, especially when it comes to mental health, housing and education.

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