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Imperial County Board Condemns Asian American Hate

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Imperial County officials want to meet with Asian American community members and groups to talk about stopping Asian hate. 

This comes after the Board of Supervisors voted to condemn racism and intolerance on Tuesday, April 13, during its meeting. The county approved a resolution condemning racism, xenophobia, and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

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“The county denounces and will not tolerate hate crimes, hateful rhetoric, or hateful acts against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” according to the resolution. “The county joins cities, counties, and states across the country in affirming its commitment to the safety and well-being of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and in combating violence and hate crimes targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.”

Asian Americans across the United States are reporting a significant increase in hate crimes, harassment, and discrimination tied to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Stop AAPI Hate, a group based out of San Francisco. The group released a report in March showing an increase in hate incidents being reported to the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center from March 19, 2020 to Feb. 28, 2021.

The number of hate incidents reported only represent a fraction of the incidents that actually occur, but it does show how vulnerable Asian Americans are to discrimination and the types of discrimination they face, according to Stop AAPI Hate. 

Verbal harassment (68.1 percent) and shunning (20.5 percent) make up the two largest proportions of the total incidents reported. Physical assault (11.1 percent) comprises the third-largest category of the total incidents. Civil rights violations account for 8.5 percent of total incidents, and online harassment makes up 6.8 percent of total incidents. 

Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a rise in harmful and xenophobic rhetoric that has led to a rise in violence and hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, according to the county’s resolution. Politically charged and culturally insensitive rhetoric referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” or “Kung Flu” haven’t helped either.

“Despite these increasing acts of hate and bigotry, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made the county more secure throughout its history, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, with an estimated 2 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders throughout our nation serving on the front lines of this crisis as healthcare providers, first responders and in other essential roles,” according to the resolution.

County board Vice Chair Jesus Escobar made his feelings known during the meeting, saying the board should be very boisterous in voting against hate. 

“I have three daughters who are Hispanic. They’re a minority. Any time these issues come up I’m very passionate about them,” he said in an interview after the meeting. “There’s no room in my vocabulary for things that are racist.”

He added that it’s completely unjustified to target anyone because of their race.

“Independent of whether we like or don’t like something about someone, at the end of the day we’re all human,” he said, adding that he feels passionate that people shouldn’t be ostracized by something like this. “There’s enough problems in our world.”

Asian people make up 2.1 percent of Imperial County while Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders make up 0.2 percent, according to 2019 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. In the United States, Asians make up 5.9 percent of the country and Pacific Islanders make up 0.2 percent.

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