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Tourist visiting Florida charged with hate crime for attacking Asian family

·2-min read
Wade Ashton stands accused of a hate crime (Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office)
Wade Ashton stands accused of a hate crime (Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office)

A Texas man has been indicted for a hate crime and stands accused of harassing and assaulting an Asian family while vacationing in Florida, according to local authorities.

Wade Ashton, 54, told the family to “go back to where they came from” as they pet his dogs on Okaloosa Island, which apparently upset Mr Ashton.

An argument broke out between a woman and Mr Ashton. It ended with Mr Ashton punching the woman’s husband repeated during their exchange.

“The woman’s husband says they were all initially separated by about 25 feet during the verbal argument, but Anton ran around the park railings and began punching him repeatedly,” according to a statement from the the Okaloosa County Sherriff’s Office.

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It is believed their interaction ended when the husband pulled out a gun that he carried for protection, and the eyewitnesses intervened, pulling them apart, according to local police.

Rates of hate crimes against Asians and people of Asian heritage have been rising during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the BBC. No federal figures are available but 2019 rates were at a record high before the arrival of Covid.

The FBI warned that the Covid-19 pandemic would lead to a rise in hate crime and the United Nations produced a report saying that rates of hate crimes were at a record high.

“Racially motivated violence and other incidents against Asian-Americans have reached an alarming level across the United States since the outbreak of COVID19. Chinese Americans and other Asian-Americans, including Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipino, and Burmese descent, among others, have been subject to racist, xenophobic attacks,” it read.

This problem was believed to be exacerbated by political leaders, such as former President Donald Trump. He used racially inflammatory terms for the virus, ranging from “the Chinese virus” and “Wuhan flu”.

In response to the onslaught of attacks against Asian American and Pacific Islander community, President Biden signed into law a bill a bill that sought to crack down on violence against people of Asian heritage spearhead by Democratic congresswomen Grace Meng and Judy Chu.

“Asian Americans have been screaming out for help, and the House and Senate and President Biden have clearly heard our pleas,” Rep Grace Meng said.

Echoing this, Rep Judy Chu said it was horrific to “open up the newspaper every day and see that yet another Asian American has been assaulted, attacked and even killed”.

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