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Hate. Another ugly side-effect of COVID-19

When it comes to COVID-19, Fort Bend County officials say they’re not only fighting the virus but the hate speech that comes along with it.

FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas — As COVID-19 continues to spread, elected officials and the Anti-Defamation League says so does a less-talked-about side-effect; hate, specifically against Asian communities.

The Anti-Defamation League points to at least 2,100 hate incidents nationwide since March linked to the virus. The number was compiled by the Los Angeles-based Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council.

“At first, there was a lot of fear and that fear was being used to push political agendas,” explained Mark Toubin, SW regional director for the ADL.

Their numbers show that in June 2020, 39 hate incidents were reported in the region compared to just eight in June 2019. Not all are COVID-19 related, however, the ADL says many are, although a specific number wasn’t immediately available.

Fort Bend County Judge KP George says various Asian communities have come to him to report they’re being targeted by hateful rhetoric. Often, being blamed for the coronavirus. They say nicknames like “Kung-flu” and “Chinese-virus” don’t help.

“It is completely unfair,” George said. “They have nothing to do with this virus. The virus doesn’t have any race or ethnicity or anything, it affects everybody.”

On Tuesday, Fort Bend County’s Commissioners Court passed a COVID-19 anti-hate resolution. Although hate speech isn’t punishable by law, officials hope the resolution sends a message.

“We are saying, ‘hey, there’s no place for hate in Fort Bend County,’” George said.

The ADL agrees a resolution is the right step, pointing out hate crimes often start with hate speech.

“It’s so important for people to hear their leaders stand up publicly against this form of hate,” Toubin said. “We are united in our desire to help defeat this pandemic free of hate.”