Torrance City Council Condemns the Rise of Racism During COVID-19 Outbreak

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The City Council in Torrance, California has passed a resolution fighting xenophobia in response to the recent incidents of anti-Asian attacks in the area.

Resolution No. 2020-78: Introduced by the council’s only Asian American member, George Chen, the resolution condemned the rise in cases of racism in Torrance since the COVID-19 outbreak began.

  • The resolution, which noted that 37% of the population in Torrance is Asian, also highlighted that the city has the highest concentration of Japanese Americans in Los Angeles County.
  • It also noted that the use of “Chinese virus” only “encourages hate crimes, hate incidents, and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders at a time when communities should be working to get through this crisis.”
  • The resolution officially states that the city of Torrance “Denounces xenophobia, racism, discrimination, and anti-Asian American and Pacific Islander sentiment due to the fears of the COVI D-19 pandemic;
  • “Joins local districts, cities, counties, and states across the country in affirming its commitment to the safety and well-being of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders; and
  • “Affirms its commitment to providing a safe welcoming environment for all residents, students, employees, and visitors of any race, ethnicity, and national origin.”

Recent anti-Asian attack: Just over a month ago, two viral videos featuring a woman’s anti-Asian attacks in Wilson Park emerged online and sparked anger in the Asian community.

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  • The suspect, identified as Lena Hernandez of Long Beach, was not charged for verbally harassing Asian Americans at the park, despite the video evidence proving her fault in both incidents.
  • On July 11, protesters criticized the city for not charging Hernandez in connection to the attacks. Hernandez was arrested and charged for an unrelated incident from last year.
  • The resolution, which did not address that issue, received a response from Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress Co-Chair Kathy Masaoka, who urged the city to take concrete steps in putting a stop on these hate acts, Rafu Shimpo reports.
  • “We urge you to respond to hate acts, whether they are verbal or physical, with seriousness and respect for all parties involved,” she said. “NCRR concurs that Lena Hernandez must be charged for her hate-filled speech and threatening behavior towards persons of Asian Pacific Islander heritage.”
  • Advocates are also calling for the creation of “an independent police commission” with the authority “to make policy recommendations to the City Council.” 
  • South Bay Japanese American Citizens League president Masaru Kent Kawai highlighted the need to create a police commission as a means to move forward, according to AsAm News.

Feature Image via @AntiKarenLeague

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