Members of New Portlanders Policy Commission are outraged by the recent murders of eight people in Atlanta, Georgia. Six were women of Asian descent, most of them were immigrants. This is yet another horrendous example of growing incidents of anti-Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) hate crimes and harassment sweeping across this country.
We mourn these senseless killings motivated by hate, and we wish to express our deep condolences to the families of the victims of this violence. We stand in solidarity with the AAPI and immigrant communities of Atlanta in our mutual need to stay strong and be united in our quest as Americans for respect and dignity.
Portland, Oregon is no different in this regard. In June of 2020, the New Portlanders Policy Commission reported to the City Council with our alarm at the increasing reports of race-based hate crimes against Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in midst of the pandemic. With our nation’s former leader referring to the COVID-19 virus as “Chinese Virus” and “Wuhan Virus” in place of the scientific name, we were concerned with the resulting increase in hate and anti-AAPI scapegoating. We thank the City Council for working with the NPPC to present a Proclamation to condemn hate crimes against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities as well as hate crimes against immigrant and refugees, especially Arab and Islamophobia. You can find the Proclamation here.
Nine months since, we have reports from the Oregon Department of Justice of continuing increase during the past year in crimes and other acts of bias directed against AAPI persons and businesses. Just within the first two months of 2021, the number of reported hate crimes and other acts of bias reached nearly 50% of the total reported in all of 2020. The number of reported incidents of hate crimes and bias in January and February 2021 are more than twice the monthly average of incidents reported for 2020.
This is only a part of the continuum that goes on to the police killings of black and brown men and women. The recent incidents of crimes against AAPI people cannot be ignored or minimized.
Our nation’s history is filled with the similar mistreatment of people of color. People from the Middle east and other parts of Asia, Pacific Islands, Africa, and South America have been targets of hate and discrimination from the very beginning of this nation’s founding.
Our communities are coming together to heal and respondby promoting values that uphold our humanity to overcome hate. It is time for local leaders, elected officials, law enforcement, business and civic groups, and legal system leaders to commit to hold each other accountable for standing up and speaking out against white supremacy, racism, xenophobia, and misogyny towards all Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), immigrants, and refugees.
The New Portlanders Policy Commission
Dr. Baher Butti
Lee Po Cha
Blanca Gaytan Farfan
Bernal Cruz Muñoz