Mayor’s Commission on Asian American Affairs stands against acts of hate towards the Asian community in Philadelphia

For immediate release: 8 April 2020

Contact: Mayor’s Office of Communications,

The Mayor’s Commission on Asian American Affairs stands against hate and recent incidents of bias that have occurred throughout the city of Philadelphia. Members of the Asian immigrant and Asian American communities in our city have also been the target of bigotry and prejudice, as fears from the public surrounding COVID-19 have risen. 

Unfairly blaming Asian individuals and communities in times of crisis is not a new occurrence, and is deeply rooted in historical experiences of Asians in America. While COVID-19 is an illness that emerged in the city of Wuhan, China, we must remember it is an illness that can affect anyone from any background. 

Examples of harmful behavior towards Asians in Philadelphia have been shared with us, other community leaders, and on social media that include physical assaults, defacing of property, and verbal abuse and humiliation in public spaces. Unfortunately, only a handful of such incidents have been reported to authorities. Anti-Asian bias has also resulted in economic devastation in ethnic enclaves such as Philadelphia’s Chinatown, where businesses have seen a drastic drop in revenue since the initial COVID-19 outbreak was announced in China. On February 6, Mayor Kenney had lunch in Chinatown with community leaders to assure the public that Chinatown was safe. Yet, revenues still plummeted, businesses struggled to remain open, and thousands of jobs were lost before state and municipal regulations were put in place on all non-essential businesses. 

The Commission stands for the safety and security of all Philadelphians, including the most vulnerable. Asian communities are not only facing the same health concerns as the general public, but are also particularly suffering from the impact of racist actions targeted towards them. 

On March 22, Mayor Kenney again took a stand in support of Asian communities, stating: “We’ve heard some reports of discrimination against members of our Asian community as fear around COVID-19 continues to spread. I want to state clearly that acts of hate and discrimination against anyone based on their ethnicity or the perception that they are sick or a carrier of COVID-19 will not be tolerated in Philadelphia.” 

The Mayor’s Commission on Asian American Affairs urges all Philadelphians to act with compassion during this great time of need in our city, put aside fears, and see our shared humanity. We urge community members to be an “upstander,” not a “bystander.” If you witness harassment or an act of intimidation, say something, and show the victim that you see them, and that what is happening to them is not right. 

If you are a victim of any crime, you should call 911 to report it and get further assistance such as medical attention and victim services. To report non-emergency hate crimes and bias incidents related to fear of COVID-19, you should contact the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) at 215-686-4670 or For more information on what is considered a hate crime or bias incident, please visit the Office of Immigrant Affairs’ website here.

View the PDF here (also available in multiple languages, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Khmer).