Actors Daniel Wu and Daniel Dae Kim told CBS News on Tuesday that more action is needed from public officials to combat anti-Asian American rhetoric, after a string of attacks against elderly members of the community. Their plea follows a surge in attacks against Asian Americans, which have been linked in part to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re looking for help from our [district attorneys]. We’re looking for help from our community organizers. We’re looking for help from our legislators and politicians,” Dae Kim told CBSN anchor Elaine Quijano.
More than 1,800 racist incidents against Asian Americans were reported between March and May of 2020, according to a United Nations report. The report linked the violence and other incidents to the coronavirus outbreak, which was first discovered in China.
“This is a growing problem,” Dae Kim said. “These are numbers we’ve never seen before.”
Last month, three violent attacks targeting elderly Asian Americans in Oakland’s Chinatown were caught on video. The incidents prompted Wu and Dae Kim to offer a $25,000 reward for information on the suspect.
“Those of us who have been following these issues since COVID started have seen these kinds of incidents in our news feeds pop up almost daily, and yet we see very little being done about it,” Dae Kim said.
A suspect, according to Oakland Police. Yahya Muslim, 28, was charged with assault, battery and elder abuse among other charges, according to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.
President Biden signed an executive order on January 26 that condemned racism, xenophobia and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Mr. Biden put blame on the Trump administration for helping stoke the rhetoric. Former President Trump had referred to the coronavirus as the “Kung Flu” and the “Chinese virus.”
“Such statements have stoked unfounded fears and perpetuated stigma about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and have contributed to increasing rates of bullying, harassment, and hate crimes against AAPI persons,” the memorandum said.
CBS News senior White House correspondent Weijia Jiang asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday what Mr. Biden planned to do beyond denouncing anti-Asian American rhetoric. Biden would “support additional action on a local level or federal level,” Psaki said.
Wu said the executive order is a “step in the right direction,” but said there’s more that should be done.
“What the federal government can do further on is reach out to community groups that are already in this space and have been doing this work for years and find out more about how they can help,” Wu said.
Dae Kim called on fellow Asian Americans to have pride in their heritage: “Be proud to be Asian. Be proud to be American. You’ve earned the right to be both and we can all work together to be a united America. That’s the hope. That’s the dream.”