A diverse crowd came together at this year’s Chinese Festival in Portland, Oregon, with many participants coming out to show support for a local botanical garden and tea shop victimized by an act of vandalism.
About the incident: Between Thursday night and early Friday morning, a still-unidentified vandal purportedly broke off a piece of granite from one of the bronze lion statues at the entrance of Old Town. The vandal then allegedly traveled over a quarter mile and used the stolen granite to shatter a window at the Lan Su Chinese Garden’s teahouse.
While authorities have yet to confirm the incident as a hate crime, community leaders and garden officials have expressed their strong belief that the act was racially motivated.
Show of support: On Saturday, the Chinatown festival, featuring traditional performances, dance, martial arts, live music and authentic Chinese cuisine, drew a crowd standing in solidarity with the Chinese community.
Participants and organizers expressed their determination to continue celebrating Chinese culture for years to come.
“If someone thinks we’re not welcome we don’t care about it because we just show our love and know most of the people are supporting us,” a festival organizer
was quoted as saying.
An act of hate: Elizabeth Nye, the garden’s executive director, condemned the vandalism in a statement on their website, deeming it an act of hate against the Chinese community. She urged anyone with information to come forward and report it to the authorities, vowing that the garden would not be deterred from its mission of promoting cultural understanding and appreciation.
“The timing of this crime is especially disturbing as it took place just before the annual Chinese Festival, scheduled to be held tomorrow at Pioneer Courthouse Square,” said Nye. “Lan Su will join the festival organizer, Oregon Chinese Coalition, and many more local Chinese businesses and organizations to celebrate our cultural unity.”
Call for systemic action: The incident underscores the increasing concern over bias crimes, particularly against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, which have risen significantly in the state since 2020, according to a recent report from the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission.
In a statement to KOIN, Hongcheng Zhao, president and chairperson of the Board for the Oregon Chinese Coalition, highlighted the need for broader systemic action to combat such incidents and ensure the preservation of cultural heritage in the city’s Chinatown.
Chinatown holds significant cultural value as a district we, as a city, aim to preserve. However, the over-concentration of social service agencies in such a compact area has displaced Chinese Americans, turning cultural landmarks into isolated islands in a desert. Today’s incident is a reminder that if we don’t take real and concerted steps, not only from the community but also from the city and county, similar events will continue to happen.