April 1, 2021

Responding to Hate: Safe and Connected Communities

We are still heartbroken and devastated by these violent attacks against our community. The victims of this attack, like many of us, were already struggling with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, personally and economically. We all deserve a world free of the targeted racism and violence that took place in Atlanta, GA on March 17th, 2021.

From the Chinese Exclusion Act, to the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, to the continued military occupation, bombing, extraction of resources of from home countries forcing the migration of thousands to the US, to surveillance targeting Muslims and South Asians following 9/11, and scapegoating of Asians as the COVID-19 pandemic was getting underway, there has been a long-standing history of anti-Asian, xenophobic rhetoric and anti-immigrant policy in the U.S. This is nothing new for our communities, and it is long past time that policies reflect the urgency and danger that is posed to our communities everyday.

We all deserve to go about our daily lives - going to work, shopping for groceries, getting a COVID-19 vaccine, taking a walk in the neighborhood - and feel safe, without the fear of violence or harm.

This must also include the right to feel safe and not be afraid for your life during encounters with law enforcement. This is not currently the case, especially for Black women like Breonna Taylor, killed by the Louisville police over a year ago, or for many immigrant, Indigenous, and other vulnerable women. Communities where police are feared by some but sought out for protection by others are unfortunately not safe communities for anyone.

Our Call to Elected Leaders in this Moment

We need our electeds to recognize that undoing racism will require long-term, community-led investments so that all communities have what they need to thrive. Many Asian immigrants arrived or were settled into places that were under-resourced to begin with, creating the perfect storm for tensions and fear among neighbors left to compete for jobs, schools, and housing.

Dismantling inequities and racism requires deep and immediate investments that prioritize these needs. There is much more to be done to ensure that systems that were built to marginalize Black and Brown communities are dismantled, and our communities deserve safe and healthy communities, which is why we have come together to propose the following:

Oregon State Level Policies

Restorative/Transformative Justice Investments

Most hate crime laws rely on very punitive measures for the person who caused harm. We know that when harm or violence happens in our communities, these laws are both ineffective and often do not lead to justice or repair for both parties. We want to see more of a restorative justice approach to hate violence when the people harmed are amenable to this process, so that the response to hate is not simply punishment, but transformation for the individual who caused harm. Asian American organizations in Oregon, like APANO, have been working in multiracial networks, and as a result we coalesce around similar values and approaches to keeping our communities safe. To this end, we want to see:

The full passage of Reimagine Oregon’s agenda, especially the categories of community safety and police divestments. We must ban the receipt of militarized equipment by state and local police and end of qualified immunity to stop retraumatizing our communities. Our communities have long been targeted by the police, militaries and governments in their home countries without any form of accountability or healing. We must decriminalize fare evasion by removing it as a misdemeanor (HB2482)

Pass legislation this session that supports an improved justice system and protections for survivors, including: Restoration of Voting Rights (SB 571 & HB 2366); Justice for All (HB 2169); Survivor-Defendant bill (HB 2825); Removing the Slavery Exception from the OR constitution (SJR 10).

Support Survivors and Mental Health Services

It can be very difficult for Asian American victims of hate violence to access culturally competent and language accessible mental health resources. We want to see these services fully funded and prioritized at the state level, including:

$4 million of funding for the development of a statewide hotline based on community serving organizations that provide culturally and linguistically responsive resources for anyone who has experienced race or gender-based violence. Currently there is not a culturally responsive one stop place to call.

Accompanying the hotline, investment in a statewide program that allows for crisis response workers/community health workers to provide mobile support to households in a variety of settings.Pass legislation this session that supports mental health for communities of color, including HB 2949, which requires Mental Health Regulatory Agency to establish program to improve Black, Indigenous and people of color mental health workforce, including pipeline development, scholarships for undergraduates and stipends for graduate students, loan repayments and retention activities.

Pass legislation this session that supports immigrant and refugee communities including SB 778, which establishes the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Advancement to implement and oversee statewide immigrant and refugee integration strategy and the Sanctuary Promise Act, HB 2635, which will strengthen and broaden Oregon’s sanctuary protections to clearly prohibit any and all local law enforcement and government collaboration with federal immigration enforcement.

Real Investments in Housing and Community Spaces

Reeling from these vicious attacks, our communities need to be closer than ever. We need spaces to grieve, to heal, and to be together to move forward from these attacks.

$275 million in a statewide fund to create the future development of safe spaces for our community through land banking in underinvested or rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods. A portion of this fund should be dedicated to land banking in the Jade District in East Portland, Salem, Happy Valley, Beaverton, and other jurisdictions with high concentrations of AAPI communities.

$100 million for a state administered revolving fund for real estate development of cultural and community spaces partnered with affordable housing. We envision a network of cultural and community spaces across the state such as Asian Health & Services Centers or Orchards of 82nd. This fund could be used to finance affordable commercial spaces, child care facilities, or cultural and community spaces coupled with affordable housing developments.

Education & Schools

Schools are an integral place to the socialization and growth of our communities. We know that our school systems are not serving all of our students, especially those who are BIPOC, Limited English Proficient by allowing white nationalism to thrive in schools and not fully supporting our students of color.

Deeper investment in ethnic studies & culturally competent curriculum development as it relates to the Student Success Act implementation.

Confronting bullying by supporting Reimagine Oregon’s full agenda especially the mandate of restorative justice practices and bystander training for educators and students.

Upholding the All Students Belong rule and prohibiting the recruitment of youth to hate groups on campus.

Investments in Better Hate Crime Tracking and Reporting

We know that hate crimes are heavily underreported and rarely prosecuted, in particular for Limited English Proficient immigrant community members. Hate violence is complex and is both systemic and interpersonal - we need to have accurate data (collected in a manner that is accessible) on hate violence that offers insight and understanding on addressing and preventing hate violence. Studying real data will help to provide analysis for informed policymaking. We want to see:

State funding of $1 million dedicated towards hate crime tracking and data analysis with the goal of identifying policy outcomes to address root causes of trends in hate violence, including hate speech at the Oregon Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.Data collected through these processes should include robust data disaggregation to recognize the over 70 ethnic groups and around 3,000 languages spoken within the API umbrella, capturing the multitudes of our communities and the myriad of experiences.

Capacity building funding for culturally specific organizations to build out networks of support and victim support as proposed by the federal government.

Decriminalize Sex Work

We cannot equate work at a spa or as a massage worker with sex work. Because many have and will wrongly make this association, families of the victims may fear that their loved ones who were just murdered will be further stigmatized and further victimized. Because of this stigmatization, women and femmes working in these industries have often been targets of law enforcement or immigration, and are often at highest risk of targeted violence.

What we know is that women of color in general and Asian women in particular are targeted and experience sexualized violence far too often. Whether or not the victims were sexworkers, racist stereotypes about Asians, combined with hypersexualization of Asian women, which stems from the military colonization of our home countries, makes it so people perceive Asian women as sex workers or inherently sexual. This puts our sisters who work in low-wage jobs at high risk for experiencing racist, sexist attacks by the police and the general public. Destigmatizing and decriminalizing sex work will codify the view that women and femmes, regardless of whether they are at work or walking to the store, should feel safe, and the view that women are autonomous both within and outside of their sexuality. The criminalization of sex work makes sex workers, their clients, and the general public less safe, and we know that it does not prevent human trafficking, rape, or child abuse.

End/remove criminal and civil penalties for sex workers and their clients to decriminalize consensual adult sex work under: (Or. Rev. Stat. § 167.002, 167.007, 167.008.), (Or. Rev. Stat. § 167.012.), (Or. Rev. Stat. § 165.715.)

Metro Counties & The City of Portland

Real Investments in Housing, Community Spaces, Street Response

Reeling from vicious attacks, our communities need to be closer than ever. We need spaces to grieve, to heal, and to be together so that we can heal from the continued trauma of attacks.

Expanded investments in affordable housing, BIPOC businesses, cultural, and community spaces in East Portland, Clackamas, and Washington County. $500,000 reinvestment in Portland United Against Hate (PUAH) to continue reporting and tracking in Portland. $5 million from the American Rescue Plans Act (ARPA) into community owned land trusts and cultural and community spaces.

Greatly expand investment in the Neighborhood Prosperity Network programs including the Jade District to be able to provide our communities with more resources for rapid response to vandalism and community development. This includes resources for Rosewood Initiative, Division Midway, and other NPN members.

Deepen investment and expansion of Portland Street Response into the Jade District which is adjacent to Lents. This may be funded through continued divestment from direct funding to PPB to expand community safety initiatives.

Supporting Our Immigrant and Refugee Communities

Since early January 2020, our communities have had their restaurants broken into, been harassed on the street, and more on top of the existing barriers of trying to survive in the US. No one should have to mitigate these barriers.

The creation of county offices for immigrants and refugees, to support dedicated funding and programming that is customized for needs of immigrants and refugees.

The full passage of Reimagine Oregon’s agenda.


Please field all inquiries and questions and inquiry to Policy Director Richa Poudyal. This programming message is brought to you by APANO, a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization.