SAN JOSE, Calif. (Reuters) – More than a dozen from San Jose, Calif., Officers walked through the white arches of the Grand Century Mall in Little Saigon to reassure a fearful Vietnamese community of rising anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States.
FILE PHOTO: People attend the Stop Asian Hate rally in Times Square in New York, United States on April 4, 2021. REUTERS / Eduardo Munoz
On Saturday, agents walked through the arcade of hair and nail salons, restaurants serving Vietnamese cuisine and herbal medicine shops, speaking to business owners and customers. They then made a similar visit to San Joses Japantown, where a citizen patrol group was formed following the deadly attacks on Asian spas in the Atlanta area on March 16.
We know there is a lot of angst, fear with our Asian community, San Joses Police Chief Anthony Mata said during his visit to Little Saigon. It is important for us to have this dialogue, to dialogue with them and to see how we can help them.
Law enforcement agencies across the United States are scrambling to better protect Asian communities amid a wave of violence targeting them since lockdowns began to deal with the coronavirus pandemic about a year ago. A recent report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, showed that while hate crimes overall in the United States had declined slightly in 2020, crimes against native Americans Asian and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) had jumped 145%.
A vicious assault last week in which a man repeatedly kicked a 65-year-old Filipino immigrant in New York City on multiple occasions was caught on camera and has gone viral, further fueling fears about anti-hate crimes. Asian.
New York has deployed a team of undercover Asian police officers. Other major cities, from San Jose to Chicago, have stepped up patrols in Asian neighborhoods and have sought to forge closer ties with communities, some of which have sought to fill in gaps that police cannot fill.
Leanna Louie, who organized patrols in San Franciscos Chinatown, said the town’s police force, which numbered around 2,000, lacked the resources. It’s impossible, she said.
Paul Luu, chief executive of the Chinese American Service League, praised the increased police presence in Chicagos Chinatown, which he said was built on an already supportive relationship that included Chinese-speaking officers at the time. Her group focuses on educating the community about hate crimes and encourages victims, often reluctant due to language barriers or distrust of the police, to come forward.
Luu pointed to a recent attack on a 60-year-old Vietnamese immigrant on the north side of Chicago, who was initially reluctant to file a report. Official data shows Chicago recorded two anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020 – the same as in 2019 – while those crimes climbed to 28 in New York last year from three in 2019.
The numbers may be very low in Chicago, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening, Luu said.
DRIVEN BY DISINFORMATION
Not everyone believes that more policing is the solution.
Grace Pai, director of the organization at the Chicago branch of Asian American Advancing Justice, said she was against a larger police presence, citing distrust of law enforcement.
Pai said the police response to the shootings in the Atlanta area, where an officer appeared to downplay the attack by saying the shooter had a very bad day, was emblematic of a broader police bias. Six of the eight killed were of Asian origin.
Asian Americans have been negatively affected by the police, she said. We really don’t see the police playing a role in preventing these crimes from happening.
Since the Atlanta shooting, the Los Angeles Police Department has increased police patrols and visibility where many people of Asian descent live and work, particularly in and around Chinatown, Koreatown, and Little Tokyo.
Blake Chow, who is the AAPI coordinator for the Los Angeles Police Department, said then-President Donald Trump’s comments attributing the pandemic to China and using remarks such as the kung flu helped to anti-Asian sentiment.
We have no evidence of a hate group operating in Los Angeles that focuses on the Asian and Pacific Islander community, said Deputy Police Chief Chow. The increase is seen in individual acts and appears to be driven by misinformation about COVID, including some from the former president.
Chow said the ministry is holding forums with the AAPI community to get feedback on what more police should do, as well as educate community members on how to report troubling encounters, even if they cannot. not constitute a crime, for example when someone utters a racial insult.
We want to document hate incidents because they can be a precursor to a real hate crime. If we can document a pattern of conduct and track it, we can present it to a judge for a better sentence.
The rise in attacks so alarmed veteran San Jose Police, Rich Saito, that he added a patrol unit to a community group monitoring Japantown. Overwhelmed by offers of help, Saito said he had trained 40 to 50 volunteers to walk the streets and document and report any suspicious activity.
I am very concerned for the safety of this community, especially the elderly, said Saito, who escorted Police Chief Mata on a neighborhood tour on Saturday. The police are doing their best, but they can’t be here all the time, every day.
reporting by Brittany Hosea-Small in San Jose, Rich McKay in Atlanta and Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; edited by Paul Thomasch and Jonathan Oatis
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