By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
The Seattle City Council said the recent attacks on Asian Americans, especially the elderly, is heartbreaking. In a solidarity statement released on March 8, the Council condemned “the growing hate crimes being committed against our Asian American neighbors.”
“It’s our collective responsibility to not only sound the alarm on these hate crimes, but to continue our work to systematically uproot racism, xenophobia, and hate from our city,” the statement signed by all Councilmembers said.
On March 4, Seattle police arrested 41-year-old Sean Holdip in connection with a Feb. 25 assault in the Chinatown-International District (ID) against a young Asian couple. Police say Holdip used a sock filled with a hard object to strike a woman and her boyfriend. The woman suffered injuries to her face and her boyfriend needed eight stitches on his head. In an interview with KOMO 4, the man said, “I truly believe he was trying to kill us.” He said the attack was “very deliberate” and focused on his girlfriend who is Japanese American. Holdip faces two assault charges and his arraignment is scheduled for March 22.
A rally against anti-Asian violence is scheduled for 3 p.m. on March 13 at Hing Hay Park. Additional rallies are being held on March 14 at noon at Maple Valley Four Corners, and at 4:45 p.m. on March 15 at Renton City Hall.
On March 5, Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz said in a video statement that the Seattle Police Department (SPD) is finalizing the hiring of a new Chinatown-International District (ID) public safety liaison.
“The Seattle Police Department has heard from residents, business owners, and community organizations across the Chinatown-International District and throughout our city. People are particularly fearful about an increase in crimes targeting the Asian community,” Diaz said.
SPD already has a detective assigned to investigate hate crimes full-time. Diaz stressed the importance of calling 911 to report bias incidents and crimes.
“If victims and witnesses do not speak English, our city’s 911 call takers can link to interpreters certified in over 200 languages and dialects on the spot. Many of our officers speak multiple languages, as do many of our community service officers.”
In its solidarity statement, the Seattle City Council said, “While there may be calls for more policing and to strengthen laws and sentencing to punish those committing hate crimes, the Council hears the call to rely on something other than a response using the criminal legal system, given that use of the criminal legal system may only perpetuate deeply entrenched inequities and racism. Instead, we must commit to further addressing the root causes of violence so that we can achieve public safety for all our community members.”
The Department of Justice (DOJ) held a listening session on March 5 with more than a dozen Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community groups as part of its continuing efforts to deter hate crimes and other unlawful acts against the AAPI community.
“No one in America should fear violence because of who they are, what they look like, or what part of the world they or their families came from,” said Acting Deputy Attorney General John Carlin, the host of the meeting.
The DOJ said it has hosted Hate Crime Forums aimed at state and local law enforcement, attorneys, community members, community advocacy organizations, and other groups, to provide education and raise awareness about hate crimes investigations, challenges, and available resources. It says it is working to translate its hate crimes resources website and complaint portal to the four most common AAPI languages, beginning with Chinese (traditional and simplified), and conducting outreach to reach limited English proficient communities.
Committee of 100 (C100), a nonprofit leadership organization of prominent Chinese Americans in business, government, academia, healthcare, and the arts, unveiled a seven-point plan on March 4—calling on local, state, and federal leaders and law enforcement to focus on concrete actions to stop the incidents of hate, violence, and racism directed toward Chinese Americans and the AAPI community.
“These acts of hate have no place in America, whether directed against Asian Americans or anyone else,” said Zhengyu Huang, C100 president.
This is the list of the seven initiatives:
- We call on all elected officials—including governors, mayors, and members of Congress—to forcefully denounce all acts of anti-Asian racism and bigotry.
- We call on the new U.S. Attorney General and the U.S. Department of Justice to set up a task force to specifically investigate and combat increased violence directed towards the AAPI community.
- We call on the Department of Justice to revamp its China Initiative, which has involved the racial profiling of Chinese scientists and researchers.
- We call for the federal government to provide funding to state and local law enforcement agencies for education, training, and community outreach.
- We call on all law enforcement agencies to adopt a zero-tolerance stance towards acts of bigotry, racism, and hate inflicted on Asian Americans, whether verbal, physical, or psychological.
- We call on all elected officials and lawmakers to ensure survivors of hate crimes have access to support services in languages used by their local communities.
- We call for the expulsion of any public official, government employee, or law enforcement officer found to be stoking hate or discriminating against people of Asian descent.
Ruth can be reached at email@example.com.