The Chinese American Civil Rights
Coalition has filed a lawsuit
against former President Donald Trump
for his anti-Chinese rhetoric and Asian slurs, accusing him of inciting an increase in violence against Asian Americans
“Defendant’s extreme and outrageous conduct has indeed caused emotional distress to members of the Plaintiff organization, and to a large extent Asian Americans, and resulted in an unmistakable rising trend of racial violence against Chinese Americans and Asian Americans from New York
,” according to the federal suit filed Thursday in the Southern District of New York by the nonprofit civil rights organization.
It seeks $1 in damages for each American of Asian or Pacific Islander ancestry, for a total of approximately $22.9 million.
The New York nonprofit's lawsuit focuses on Trump's repeated and inaccurate descriptions of COVID-19
as the "Chinese virus," the "Wuhan virus," and the particularly racist
"Kung Flu." (Even Trump's aide Kellyanne Conway called the "Kung Flu" term "highly offensive.") Though the first known outbreak of COVID-19 was in China
, the coronavirus
's origin has not been determined.
Trump's outright demonization of China and the Chinese is widely blamed for a disturbing increase in violent attacks against Asian Americans.
DO - discuss the new #coronavirus disease (#COVID19)DON'T - associate the disease with a specific location or ethnicity; this is not a "Wuhan Virus," "Chinese Virus," or "Asian Virus." The official name for the disease was purposefully chosen to avoid stigmahttps://t.co/yShiCMfYF3
According to a study published last month by the University of California, San Francisco
, Trump referring to COVID-19 as a "Chinese virus" in a tweet in March 2020 resulted in a significant increase in the use of anti-Asian hashtags on Twitter.
A photo of Trump's notes from a press conference last year went viral
after the word "corona" in coronavirus was crossed out and replaced with "Chinese."
“The truth matters, words have consequences... especially from those in powerful and influential positions,” the complaint against Trump states. “Defendant intentionally repeated those defamatory words to serve his own personal and political interests with disregard for the well-published WHO [World Health Organization
] guidelines and the repeated advices from health officials of his own administration,” the complaint states.
In response to the recent spike in anti-Asian violence
, President Joe Biden
signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes
Act into law on Thursday.
Hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders increased by 150% in major U.S. cities in the last year, according to one study. Stop AAPI
Hate, a coalition of Asian American advocacy groups, recorded approximately 6,600 reports of racist violence against Asian Americans from March 2020 to March 2021.
In a statement to The Hill, Trump senior adviser Jason Miller called the lawsuit a "joke," adding, "This is an insane and idiotic lawsuit that is specious at best, and it will be dismissed if it ever sees the inside of a courtroom."
President Trump discusses the many different names for Coronavirus, including "Kung Flu." pic.twitter.com/m0aQLfpNuT — Benny (@bennyjohnson) June 21, 2020