PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the number of hate crimes against Asian Americans, even in Rhode Island, according to the Center for Southeast Asians.

Executive Director Channavy Chhay tells 12 News that over the last year, Rhode Island has seen an uptick in hate crimes targeting Asian businesses and residents.

“It hurts my heart,” Chhay said. “There has been an increase in threats and intimidation in Rhode Island.”

The Cranston Police Department tells 12 News several establishments in the city have been targeted in the past, but they’ve stepped up patrols and are conducting routine checks of those businesses.

Chhay is urging all Rhode Islanders to deescalate the hostile environment that’s been created by actively denouncing the hatred and intimidation that’s occurring.

“We need all of us, collective partners to join us to say words matter, actions matter,” she said.

At this time, several law enforcement agencies in Rhode Island tell 12 News there is no credible threat in Rhode Island against the Asian community, but they are prepared if one should arise.