Ed Lee Dems President Selina Sun and board member Mike Chen co-wrote a column with Supervisor Catherine Stefani standing against hate and violence against the AAPI community. Thank you to Supervisor Stefani for dedicating her column to such an important issue.

Stop AAPI hate

by Catherine Stefani, Selina Sun, and Michael ChenAPRIL 2021

On March 16, the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and allies reacted with horror upon learning that an individual had shot and killed eight people, including six Asian women, at spas and massage parlors in Atlanta, Ga.

A law enforcement spokesperson said the suspect was having a “really bad day.”

To many, news of the Atlanta shooting and the local law enforcement’s response was unsurprising, after a year of heightened racism against our AAPI neighbors and community members. Across the United States, from even some in government, the AAPI community has been under unrelenting attack.

Last November, Americans voted out of office a president who openly and repeatedly scapegoated the AAPI community for Covid-19, using racist, erroneous rhetoric to link the spread of the disease to Chinese Americans. Not coincidentally, hate crimes against members of the AAPI community sharply spiked over the course of the past year. Although Trump exacerbated anti-Asian racism, removing him from office did not, and could not be expected to, reverse this deadly trend on its own.

Even in San Francisco, when a member of the Board of Education’s anti-Asian tweets from 2016 were uncovered, and community and elected leaders called on her to resign, she claimed her words had been taken out of context and declined to step down. In a time when our communities must unite to combat racism, we cannot have elected officials that will further divide these efforts.

WORDS MATTER

Bigoted language has real, tangible consequences. Stop AAPI Hate, a nationwide coalition that formed in 2020 in response to increased racism against the AAPI community, recorded 3,795 anti-Asian incidents in the United States between March 2020 and February 2021. Verbal harassment, shunning, and physical assault were the three largest categories reported, and there were more than twice as many attacks against women than men. But these incidents were not limited to more conservative parts of the country; California accounted for more than 40 percent of the total incidents reported.

We must remember that each of these reports is from an event that actually happened to somebody, and many incidents go unreported. Sadly, San Francisco has not been immune. In just the first few months of 2021, the city has already seen many previously unimaginable attacks on our AAPI neighbors.

On Jan. 28, Vicha Ratanapakdee, 84, was taking his morning walk in Anza Vista when an individual ran toward him and violently shoved him to the ground — out of the blue, and in broad daylight. He died from his injuries. The suspect in Ratanapakdee’s killing was described by the district attorney as being in “some sort of temper tantrum.” Last month, Danilo Yu Chang, 59, was pushed and beaten unconscious in the Financial District, and Xiao Zhen Xie, 75, fended off an attacker on Market Street with a wooden plank.

Their stories are far too familiar to far too many.

ACTIONS MATTER

While we are grateful to Mayor Breed and Chief Scott for increasing police patrols in parts of San Francisco where many in our AAPI community live, work, and frequently visit, it should not have to be this way. Our friends and neighbors should not have to fear verbal threats, physical taunts, or much, much worse, when they walk our streets.