Demonstrators gathered in the City of Westminster on Saturday for a rally to demand an end to the recent surge in anti-Asian hate crime and violence that have stoked fear and outrage in the community.
The weekend event, spearheaded by the city’s Vice Mayor Charlie Chi Nguyen and Mayor Tri Ta, drew hundreds of residents from the community and throughout Southern California to the Asian Village Mall in the city’s Little Saigon neighborhood.
Nguyen said he and community leaders are “calling on local law enforcement agencies and policy-makers to provide the necessary resources to protect the community from further attacks” against Asian Americans.
“We want to voice our opinion against the hate crimes and, at the same time, we want to make sure that people, if they see any hate crimes or hate incidents, we ask them to call their police,” Nguyen said. “I want to make sure we all stay vigilant.”
There has been a marked rise in anti-Asian violence across the United States, an issue that once again rattled a community on edge after last month’s mass shooting deaths of eight people at spas in the Atlanta area, six of whom were Asian women.
Last week, a smattering of Ku Klux Klan fliers were distributed in neighborhoods of Long Beach and Huntington Beach. It’s unclear whether the flyers being distributed in these cities are connected, and no group has yet come forward to claim responsibility for the white supremacist propaganda.
Since coronavirus shutdowns began last March, thousands of Asian Americans have reported experiencing racist verbal and physical attacks, according to a recent report by Stop AAPI Hate.
But the true scope of the problem, is difficult to quantify because of poor data collection and low rates of reporting. Experts and law enforcement officials say that hate crime and bias incident data released by police departments and federal agencies is just a fraction of actual incidents, as many who experience such crimes are often reluctant to report to officials.
While community organizations and activists have taken to it upon themselves to collect data on their own and address deficiencies in hate-crime reporting, definitions of hate crime may differ, leaving policymakers with competing datasets that don’t capture the scope of the problem.