With crimes against Asian Americans on the rise locally and nationwide, Los Angeles community leaders joined forces Monday with the L.A. Police Department to sound the alarm on racism and hate.
“The fear is truly palpable, especially for Asian American business owners and employees who wonder when this hate will show up on their doorstep,” Councilmember John Lee of District 12 said at a news conference outside Radio Korea in Koreatown.
Los Angeles County is home to more than 1.5 million people of Asian Pacific Islander descent, many who are now fearful. One resident told KTLA he thinks the COVID-19 pandemic helped fuel the uptick in racism against the Asian American community.
“I think it’s more because of the pandemic, people are more thinking that it came from an Asian country,” resident Scott Paophavihanh told KTLA. “I feel like that has amplified the hate crimes toward Asian communities.”
Stop AAPI Hate, a group that has been documenting crimes against the Asian American Pacific Island communities, say 3,800 cases of racially motivated attacks have happened to Asian Americans over the past year nationwide. The group says those over the age of 60 have been heavily targeted.
Over the weekend in L.A.’s Chinatown, members of the Asian community came together to hand out whistles to elders in the communities as a resource to help prevent them from harm.
On Sunday a man was seen driving through a group of people protesting against Asian American and Pacific Islander hate crimes in Diamond Bar, in an incident that is being investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department as a possible hate incident.
Investigators confirmed the driver shouted profanities and made racial remarks, including shouting “F— China, f— you,” at the demonstrators before leaving the scene.
In response to the rise in crimes in Asian communities, LAPD said it has stepped up patrols in those neighborhoods.
On Monday afternoon, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis also denounced crimes against Asian Americans while speaking at a coronavirus news conference. She said when the pandemic first started to ravage the county, it was members of the AAPI community who mobilized to deliver masks, PPE and resources to overstretched hospitals and who were among the frontline workers who risked their lives in hospitals to care for coronavirus patients.
“It was Filipino nurses who died disproportionately from COVID-19 because they were working day and night in our intensive care units,” Solis said. “Our AAPI communities deserve to be celebrated and embraced, not attacked.”
The attacks on the AAPI community have been transpiring across the nation. Earlier this month in Atlanta, a white gunman was charged with fatally shooting eight people, six of whom were Asian women at massage parlors.
Solis urged anyone who has experienced or witnessed a hate crime to report it through the county’s 211 Hotline or stopaapihate.org. LAPD said any crimes against the Asian American Pacific Islander community should also be reported to 911.