This past year of COVID is just another example of how we scapegoat a community and it serves as a reminder of how Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have historically been one of those communities.
What most of us didn’t learn in our history books is the way that Asian Americans have been targeted throughout Western history. Although much of our railway expansion infrastructure was built on the back of this community, they were used and discriminated against, economically forced out, banned, and, later, kept in internment camps. Those who chose to speak out for themselves suffered violence at the hands of whites with more power and political and economic heft.
The former administration can be held partly responsible for the new surge in targeting the AAPI community with its insistence on using inflammatory rhetoric and racist terms surrounding COVID. According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, hate crimes targeting the AAPI community increased by 149 percent in 2020. Stop AAPI Hate, a non-profit organization running a national website for individuals to report racially-motivated violence has reported over 3,000 incidents since it began tracking incidents last March.
As one of the fastest-growing communities in Nevada, census data shows that the Asian community has more than doubled in the last 20 years in Clark County and is home to over 21,000 Asian-owned businesses
Unfortunately, the recent shootings in Atlanta have brought home how far we still need to go to battle the cycle of bigotry that we continue to see around the country and at home. In light of this increase in violence and rhetoric, communities have actively come forward to speak out against it and against white supremacist activities that flourish when action isn’t taken.
Last week, Clark County decided to do just that.
On March 16, Craig Valdez, a member of the Clark County Commission, called for a resolution combating AAPI hate crimes in our community. In drafting this resolution that will be voted on next month, the commission believes that it is sending a clear message that this type of bigotry and hate will not be tolerated in our community.
Although our Asian community here is not experiencing an uptick in anti-AAPI violent crime, we are well aware of how it has been targeted in the number of local reports of prejudice and racial slurs. In Las Vegas, we are proud of our diversity and have welcomed all ethnicities as we believe they enrich our community and allow us to understand each other.
During this time, we believe that it is incumbent upon all members of our community to speak out in support of the AAPI community. At LV Criminal Defense, we stand in solidarity with our AAPI friends and neighbors. Hate crimes are a criminal offense.
If you find that you have been the subject of a criminal hate crime in our city, please contact us to understand your legal rights. Let us help hold responsible parties accountable for their actions.