AAPI rally calls for Malden city councilor who dressed as Asian spa worker for Halloween to resign

Malden Ward 8 Councilor Jadeane Sica came under fire when a photo of her 2019 Orchids of Asia-themed Halloween costume resurfaced online last month.

The controversy: Last month, a photo of Sica and her husband dressed in an Orchids of Asia-themed Halloween couples costume resurfaced.

  • The costume takes inspiration from Orchids of Asia a day spa in Jupiter, Florida, where New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft had been accused of soliciting prostitution in January 2019. The charges against Kraft were dropped by prosecutors in September 2020.
  • The photo shows Sica at a 2019 Halloween party where she is dressed in a T-shirt that read “Orchids of Asia” and a bamboo hat while holding a bottle of lotion or sunscreen. Her husband, John Bernbaum, wore a Patriots hooded sweatshirt, a “Super Bowl champions” hat and a large gold chain while holding a makeshift Lombardi Trophy.
  • In a recent Nov. 17 Facebook post, Sica said that since she had worn the Halloween costume two years ago, she has become much more aware of the fact that the women involved in cases like the Orchids of Asia sting are all too often vulnerable members of the Asian community who have been victims of exploitation.
  • “Those that know me know that I have love in my heart for people from all backgrounds, races, and religions. I also recognize that bad intent isn’t a necessary ingredient to actions that are hurtful to others,” Sica wrote in the Facebook post. “Looking back at the choice of costume through a more enlightened lens allows me to see now what I didn’t see then, which is that costumes that in any way portray another culture can be hurtful and in my case, send a message inconsistent with how I’ve lived my public and private life. I can and will do better.”

The rally: Dozens of people in Massachusetts called on Sica to resign during a rally against Asian hate on Dec. 11.

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  • The Greater Malden Asian American Community Coalition called Sica’s costume “harmful, racist and ignorant” in a public statement shortly after the post went viral.
  • The organization condemned the photo, accusing Sica of yellowface as well as taking part in the hyper sexualization of Asian women and the mockery of the Asian women who worked at Orchids of Asian  many of whom were arrested and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
  • “Our youth, especially our young women, should not see themselves represented and mocked in this way by an elected official of our town,” the statement read.
  • AAPI community organizers and residents gathered at 2 p.m. for the demonstration at Malden City Hall Plaza.
  • A demonstrator who was at the rally told WCVB5 that if Sica had apologized last month, the demonstration would not have happened.
  • On Dec. 14, Malden city police announced they are investigating a possible civil rights violation that took place during the rally on Saturday.
  • Detective Lt. Mike Powell, civil rights officer for the Malden Police Department, told Patch.com that a 36-year-old man has been identified in connection with the allegations.
  • The man has no known Malden ties and is not affiliated with any hate groups, Powell told Patch.

Featured Images via WCVB

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