By Titi Liu, Executive Director
Over the past several weeks, hundreds of Asian American residents in San Francisco and Oakland have testified at city hall meetings and participated in community rallies against violence and demanded action be taken to improve safety. Founded in 1972, the Asian Law Caucus has a long history of speaking out against violence and harassment against Asian Americans, including addressing crimes against Vietnamese residents in San Francisco housing projects in the 1990’s and the targeting of South Asians, Arabs, and Muslims before and after 9/11. The ALC also has provided know your rights and anti-violence trainings to thousands of youth, parents, and educators.
The ALC applauds the efforts of community members who have worked to draw attention to this important issue. The ALC also calls for a thorough investigation of each of the incidents against Asian victims that have occurred in the Bayview and in Oakland. Effective solutions to prevent these incidents from reoccurring can only be developed if the individual causes are investigated and addressed.
In addition, while these cases are being investigated, proactive steps, both short-term and long-term, need to be taken to improve public safety for all residents as acts of violence create fear in the hearts of all community members, African American and Asian American alike. The San Francisco and Oakland police departments need to strengthen relationships with community members to ensure victims of crime feel safe coming forward and reporting incidents. This includes, but is not limited to, improving language access services and cultural competency of officers, which is a project the ALC has been working on in San Francisco for the past several years. The police also need to be clear about what they can do if incidents are reported. Violence prevention and intervention programs that have been shown to have positive results in both cities need to be fully funded and supported rather than being the first to be targeted for cuts each year. Structural changes also are needed to preserve and expand safe and affordable housing in these communities for all residents.
We also must be vigilant as communities move forward in working together to create safer neighborhoods to not reinforce stereotypes about one another, but to instead enter this difficult yet important dialogue with an open mind and an open heart.