Residents made “Anti-Asian” remarks at a recent North Miami City Council meeting, according to the Miami New Times.
“Given the coronavirus crisis in China, I want to stand and request — demand — a freeze on all Chinatown initiatives or attempts to bring anything related to that here to North Miami because of the worldwide health crisis,” said Jessica Alston, a former city council candidate, during the meeting.
For years, the city has planned to build a Chinatown district in a 16-block area of North Miami in hopes of increasing tourism and international attention to the area.
“The project is going phenomenal. This will be the first Chinatown in Florida. Florida is the gateway for the international (community) as you come into the Americas,” Vice Mayor Alix Desulme told news outlet Xinhua. “It’s a right fit, a right idea for the right time.”
The North Miami resident has been a frequent vocal objector to the proposal, the Miami Herald reported. Alston argues that building Chinatown will displace the Haitian and African American residents and business owners who currently reside in District 4.
However, Delsume said Alston has “spoken out against Chinese people and spread misinformation about the project,” which Alston has denied.
After Alston’s comments, one of the councilmembers, Scott Galvin, condemned them, saying he initially “bit his tongue” to avoid “a shouting match” in the meeting.
“At our city council meeting last night, a resident made comments which I found to be xenophobic and demeaning,” he wrote in an email newsletter a day after the meeting. “I write today to say that our community cannot tolerate such insensitivity.”
Galvin drew parallels to the early 1980s HIV/AIDs crisis, where widespread “false information and fear-mongering” caused many to be wrongly shunned and mocked.
“History can not be allowed to repeat itself in North Miami,” he said.
An Anti-Defamation League chapter applauded his remarks.
Delsume, who was also at the meeting, told the Miami New Times that he regrets not speaking out when the remarks were made.
“We should have really addressed it right there and then,” he said. “I thought those comments were not only irresponsible but just ignorant.”
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