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Asian-Americans feel targeted with 'Chinese virus' label

Ryan Raiche
Updated: March 19, 2020 06:39 PM
Created: March 19, 2020 06:09 PM

Recent descriptions of the novel coronavirus have led to complaints of discrimination in the Twin Cities directed at the Asian-American community.

The complaints of racial discrimination were influenced in part by President Donald Trump after he started referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus,” according to Bo Thao-Urabe, the Executive Director of the Coalition of Asian-American Leaders.

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“I even have one of the leaders say that I’m more scared about my safety than I am about the virus and I think that should concern us all,” she said.

Urabe said the organization plans to launch a website next week to start tracking incidents of discrimination in Minnesota related to the virus.

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“I have been told by community members that they are not being served when trying to buy food or supplies for their families, and also people are going out for walks and receiving racist remarks like, 'Take your disease and go back to your country,'” Urabe said.

Keith Ellison, Minnesota Attorney’s General, told 5 INVESTIGATES Thursday that his office has received at least four complaints of discrimination, including a local Asian woman who said she received a threatening note.

On Twitter, Ellison called the president’s rhetoric “dangerous and racist.”

“Attaching any sort of ethnicity to the virus is inaccurate and not helpful,” Ellison said in an interview Thursday.

The rhetoric has also become a concern for the state’s most prominent school district, Minneapolis Public Schools. Superintendent Ed Graff made it a point to address the issue at a press conference earlier this week.

“It’s very disappointing that we have those kinds of conversations and those kinds of actions happening in our city,” he said.

Ellison recommends that any victims of discrimination report it to his office, the police and the Department of Human Rights.


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