This Free Initiative is Helping Victims Fight Back Against COVID-19 Related Hate Crimes

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A coalition of lawyers from the San Diego and Los Angeles counties have committed to providing free legal assistance to Asian American victims of harassment and discrimination.

On Wednesday, the People’s Alliance for Justice announced the creation of the Legal Aid Task Force, which offers pro bono legal representation to Asian Americans in civil rights discrimination cases, CBS8 reports.

The initiative was the group’s response to the spate of racially-motivated attacks people of Asian descent have been experiencing in the United States and other parts of the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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According to People’s Alliance for Justice president Rev. Shane Harris, five lawyers have offered their services in the greater San Diego area so far.

“Racism against any one of us is racism against all of us. Discrimination against any one of us is discrimination against all of us,” Harris said at a press conference.

He said the project is part “of a proactive agenda ensuring that the civil rights of Asian American communities are protected under the law.”

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In his statement, Harris also cited President Donald Trump’s multiple references to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus,” noting that the Ebola virus outbreak similarly resulted in hate crimes and discrimination against people of African origin.

President of the Asian Business Association of San Diego Jason Paguio lamented that months before the statewide stay-at-home order, the Asian community had been discriminated against in relation to COVID-19.

Marlea Dell’anno, one of the lawyers in the task force, noted that they are committed to providing assistance to victims whenever needed, even if the services they can offer are limited by local restrictions due to COVID-19.

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“We’re just here to remind everyone in our community that they are not alone,” Dell’anno said. “There are people prepared to fight for their civil rights. We won’t tolerate discrimination in our city. We won’t tolerate discrimination against any members of our community.”

Victims who may have a potential civil rights discrimination case can reach the Legal Aid Task Force at 619-354-8051.

Feature Image via CBS 8 San Diego

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