On the one-year anniversary of the United States’ battle against the coronavirus, President Joe Biden denounced “vicious hate crimes” against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. During the address on Thursday, which marked the president’s first prime-time speech, Biden acknowledged the toll the pandemic has taken on the American people.

He also noted that, while many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders work on the front lines, fighting against the coronavirus pandemic, they are still subjected to racist, violent attacks. “So many of them are fellow Americans, are on the front lines of this pandemic trying to save lives — and still are forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America,” Biden said.

The president went on to say that, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asian-Americans have been “attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated.” Violence against Asian Americans has increased by almost 150 percent in the last year, in cities such as New York and Los Angeles. This rise in violent crime came as the coronavirus began spreading in the U.S. in early 2020, after first being discovered in Wuhan, China.

Since the start of the pandemic, over 3,000 hate crimes against the Asian American community have been reported. Many Democratic politicians and activists have claimed that the attacks can be linked to former President Donald Trump’s anti-Asian rhetoric. For instance, Trump repeatedly attempted to place the blame for the pandemic on China, calling it “the China virus.”

The new president claimed in his speech that “too often, we’ve turned against one another.”

In reference to the attacks, Biden stated plainly: “It’s wrong. It’s un-American. And it must stop.”

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