Former United States President Donald Trump is being sued by a Chinese American civil rights group over his use of the terms “Chinese virus”, “Wuhan virus” and “Kung Flu virus” during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to court documents (PDF) posted online, the Chinese Americans Civil Rights Coalition, a nonprofit organisation based in New York, filed the lawsuit against Trump on Thursday.
According to the suit, Trump’s statements during speeches and his postings on social media during the pandemic caused Chinese and Asian Americans “emotional distress” and led to an uptick in racially motivated violence against these communities across the country.
“Defendant’s extreme and outrageous conduct indeed has caused members of the Plaintiff organization and to a large extent Asian Americans emotional distress and resulted in an unmistakable rising up trend of racial violence against Chinese Americans and Asian Americans from New York to California.”
One of the highest-profile incidents of violence against Asian Americans happened on March 17 when a gunman shot eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, in three attacks on massage parlours in and around Atlanta.
In New York City on March 29, a 65-year-old Filipino woman was assaulted while walking to church. The assailant kicked her in the stomach, knocked her to the ground and stomped on her.
In a statement to The Hill newspaper, Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Trump, said: “This is an insane and idiotic lawsuit that is specious at best, and it will be dismissed if it ever sees a courtroom.”
“It’s a complete joke, and if I was the lawyer that brought it I’d be worried about getting sanctioned.”
According to a Pew Research poll published in April, 81 percent of Asian American adults said violence against them has been on the rise. Some 20 percent of respondents cited Trump’s rhetoric about China as one of the reasons for the rise in violence against Asian Americans.
On Thursday President Joe Biden signed a bill that addressed the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who is Black and Indian, discussed reports of stabbings, shootings and other attacks against Asian American and Pacific Islander individuals and their businesses since the start of the pandemic a little more than a year ago.
Harris said such incidents had increased sixfold in recent months.
After largely maintaining a low profile since losing re-election in November, Trump reportedly intends on resuming his signature rallies in June.
“We’ll be doing one in Florida, we’re going to do one in Ohio, we’re going to do one in North Carolina,” Trump told the conservative news outlet OAN on Thursday.
“We’ll be announcing them very soon over the next week or two,” Trump said.
These rallies will be his first public political events since speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February.
Trump has been indefinitely banned from several social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, after his supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6.