HomeAsian AmericansOklahoma's Asian Americans face attacks despite hate crime bill

Oklahoma’s Asian Americans face attacks despite hate crime bill

Police in Del City, OK say the same suspect is likely behind four separate incidents of burglary and vandalism at a Thai restaurant.

“That’s pretty hard on me already with mentally, emotionally, and with everything in the past two months. I’m depressed, you know, I’m depressed,” Lyn Detpthong, the owner of the Tasty Thai, said to the Ponca City News.

She believes the attacks are hate crimes, but proving it can be difficult.

The crimes happened on April 13, May 11, May 23 and May 25, the last two incidents just days after President Biden signed the anti-Asian Hate Crime bill.

However police say there’s not enough proof to call these a hate crime right now.

“Normally [with hate crimes] in the U.S., the victims have either received hateful phone calls or hateful mail or racist graffiti, but there wasn’t any of that,” Bradley Rule, of the Del City police told Ponca City News.

Detpthong says the crimes have taken a toll on her staff.

“My staff’s scared,” Detphong said. “I mean every time they come to the restaurant in the morning, they said it’s going to happen the next day. It’s going to happen again,” she said to News 9.

Detphong works as a full time nurse and runs the restaurant as an investment. She’s fearful the string of incidents may force her to give up her nursing job.

“I just want him to stop, you know, it’s not fun. I mean this is my family right here. We’re doing this to feed a family,” pleaded Detphong to Fox 25.

The Hate Crime bill assigns someone at the Department of Justice to investigate hate crimes against the Asian American community. It’s also designed to make it easier to report hate crimes at the local and state level.

Some Asian Americans in Oklahoma are thankful the bill passed, but remain skeptical it will have an impact.

“I think having our legislature acknowledge that these things are a problem is a very powerful step in the right direction,” said Veronica Laizure, co-chairman of the Asian Task Force on Domestic & Sexual Violence.

“[However], I’m not confident that criminal legal system responses to a social problem are actually going to eradicate crimes against Asian-Americans,” she said to Ponca City News.

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