In response to the uptick in hate crimes against Asian Americans, Karin Wang, spokeswoman for Los Angeles-based Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ), announced the launch of the website Standagainsthatred.org to document and track crimes.
“Our goal is not just to have a place where we can share stories, but also … give people advice about complaints and legal actions they may be able to file,” Wang said to the Orange County Register.
Hate crimes in Los Angeles County jumped 24 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to Los Angeles Human Relations Commission’s 2015 Hate Crimes Report. In particular, hate crimes targeting Asian Americans, the majority of which were people of Chinese descent, tripled from six to 18.
One such crime was experienced by Gloria Lee, a first-generation Korean American raised in Orange County. When the lawyer crossed the street to her firm’s offices in Costa Mesa, a car screeched to a sudden halt close by, almost hitting her. The driver yelled at her, using expletives, to go back to China.
“I was shocked,” Lee told the Orange County Register. “I realized that despite [my] accomplishments or contributions to the community, some people still just see me as a foreigner who doesn’t belong.” Lee is currently a client relations partner at Rutan & Tucker, and has been named a “rising star” by the Southern California Super Lawyers publication for four straight years. Lee’s experience has been shared on Standagainsthatred.org, with other similar stories reported by Asian Americans.
Wang said that Donald Trump’s anti-China rhetoric likely played a part in rousing hate sentiments that have driven numbers up. “It’s reminiscent of the 1980s when Japan was portrayed as the economic enemy,” she said, “particularly as a threat to the U.S. auto industry.”
Wang said that though Standagainsthatred.org will track numbers, it is the individual stories that will energize people and the anti-hate movement. “The reality is people, at some point, become numb to numbers,” she said. “But they respond to the news and they respond to stories.”
When Standagainsthatred.org posted a news story last month about True Light Christian Church in Buena Park being vandalized with swastikas and racial slurs, it was spread widely in the Asian American Pacific Islander community. Wang believed that more solidarity emerged in the wake of increasing hate crimes and incidents.
AAAJ will reportedly help those who come through the website to assess their legal options. “We could help connect people with mental health or law enforcement resources,” Nicole Gon Ochi, AAAJ’s supervising attorney said. “We could help file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. And in some cases, we could help them pursue civil litigation.”
Chino Hills resident Ishmael Ileto, a Filipino American, lost his brother Joseph to a shooting on August 10, 1999, at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills. In addition to Ileto’s death, five others suffered injuries caused by White supremacist Buford O. Furrow Jr.’s open fire. Ileto believes that the website would prove a valuable resource to the Asian American Pacific Islander community.
“People in the Asian American community are very hesitant to talk openly about hate crimes,” Ileto said. “My mom, for example, didn’t want to bring attention to our family because she was scared we’d be targeted again. Being the minority, you sometimes get the feeling that everybody is against you.”
Nevertheless, Ileto said that it was crucial for victims or families to be able to share stories and bring awareness to the community.
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