May 5, 2010
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.
November 7, 2009
By Veena Dubal, Staff Attorney, National Security and Civil Rights Program
Yesterday, was a difficult day for me.
I spent the morning “dialoguing” with a former Republican Senator, a conservative law professor, and the director of a non-profit that works against “big government” (among others) on issues of race in America. We debated everything for an educational television program: from the use of race in law enforcement to affirmative action.
During the course of this two hour program, I tried to maintain a countenance of civility while listening to a white man deploy narratives of “personal responsibility” while talking about black men and violence. After abstractly opining on “racism in America” for the taping, I walked back to our offices in Chinatown in the drizzly San Francisco rain and thought about my clients whose lives were plagued by the complexities and intersections of racism and imperialism. Read the rest of this entry »
July 29, 2009
This article was originally posted on New America Media and is being reposted here with the author’s permission.
By Raj Jayadev
Professor Henry Louis Gates, recently arrested, gets to share a beer with the man who arrested him, Sgt. James Crowley, at the White House with the President of the United States. It is a highly uncommon ending to an unfortunately very common occurrence – a man of color citing racial profiling after an arrest.
If this incident is really to be the “teachable moment” President Obama hopes for, the real question to explore is this: What would have happened to Dr. Gates if he were not an acclaimed scholar and author, friend to the President, and someone whose stardom could greatly embarrass a city and county justice system? Read the rest of this entry »
June 19, 2009
By Veena Dubal, Staff Attorney
“To cast this case into outlines of racial prejudice, without reference to the real military dangers which were presented, merely confuses the issue. Korematsu was not excluded from the Military Area because of hostility to him or his race. He was excluded because we are at war with the Japanese Empire, because the properly constituted military authorities feared an invasion of our West Coast and felt constrained to take proper security measures, because they decided that the military urgency of the situation demanded that all citizens of Japanese ancestry be segregated from the West Coast temporarily . . .” –Korematsu v. United States (1944)
“The September 11 attacks were perpetrated by 19 Arab Muslim hijackers who counted themselves members in good standing of al Qaeda, an Islamic fundamentalist group. Al Qaeda was headed by another Arab Muslim – Osama bin Laden – and composed in large part of his Arab Muslim disciples. I should come as no surprise that a legitimate policy directing law enforcement to arrest and detain individuals because of their suspected link to the attacks would produce a disparate, incidental impact on Arab Muslims, even though the policy’s purpose was to target neither Arabs nor Muslims.” –Ashcroft v. Iqbal, (2009)
In 1942, in the midst of World War, 120,000 Japanese Americans were sent by federal order to internment camps. Fred Korematsu resisted and was soon arrested and sent to Topaz, a camp in the Utah desert that was surrounded by barbed-wire fences and watchtowers armed with machine guns. Read the rest of this entry »