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My Letter to the City Regarding Intimidation of AAPI Neighbors

As I wrote last month, I’m disgusted at the alarming trend of hatred and intimidation directed against our AAPI neighbors since the beginning of the pandemic, and especially the spike in violence since the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6th.

This ugliness not only manifested itself in an attack on an elderly Filipino woman on the San Diego Trolley last month, but the non-profit Stop AAPI Hate reported dozens of anti-Asian incidents in San Diego throughout last year. Last Thursday the Washington Post reported “Asian and Asian American families are choosing to keep their children learning from home” even as schools reopen out of a fear of harassment, while ABC News reported on the long-term mental health effects of anti-Asian harassment and violence.

In my remarks to the Clairemont Town Council last Thursday, I said this is intolerable in any community, but especially in our community. This affects our neighbors, friends, and loved ones, and it’s put the heart of our District 6 community in a state of fear and stress about the safety of our streets and sidewalks.

When the Trump administration instituted the Muslim ban, we were at the airport to show that was awful, unacceptable policy. My wife is a naturalized citizen from Mexico, and when Trump used hateful speech to describe our neighbors to the south, we made our opposition clear. We’ve done the same when our LGBTQ neighbors are threatened and harassed. We must do the same now.

While I wrote about this crisis a few weeks ago, today I delivered a letter to the city’s Human Relations Commission to ask the commission to increase its outreach to AAPI communities and related organizations throughout the city. I want to ensure the city increases its vigilance regarding anti-Asian violence, just as we and our neighbors are increasing our own vigilance.

I’ve also called on the Human Relations Commission to schedule hearings on the epidemic of anti-Asian hate as soon as it’s safe to gather at neighborhood libraries and recreation centers. And I’ve asked that the city make law enforcement, fire personnel, and other public safety services part of the dialogue to discuss the potential for cultural misunderstandings that may arise from language barriers or incomplete communication, and which could discourage some elderly AAPI neighbors from reporting a hate-related incident.

You can read my letter here.

As I wrote earlier, look after your neighbors, especially your elderly neighbors. Ensure they feel safe, and that they know you or a friend or family member is nearby. Offer a ride if they need one. Be seen, make yourself available, and let your neighbors know you’re only a few doors away.

We are a nation of laws, but laws alone will not change hearts or cure hate that has had decades to take hold. We must begin with each other, with responsible rhetoric, and the common decency far too many of us deny our neighbors and strangers. I hope you’ll join me in this simple, needed task, and I encourage you to visit Stop AAPI Hate for more.