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Police Relations in Asian-American Communities

The relationship between Asian-American Community and the police is one that has often seemed like one of neglect. Asian-American has seemed like a neglected group by the police and that could just be due to sheer ignorance and failure to take their plights seriously. In 2017 an NPR poll of 14,00 Asian-American responses to the question "Do you think that police departments treat racial and ethnic groups equally?" (Lo Wang 2017). A summary of the result showed that the response "no" had the most votes. To reference this poll that was taken in 2017 you have to wonder what the response would be in the poll today.

In 2020 when COVID-19 begun to take the United States and the world by storm hates crime against Asian American communities was on the rise. This inference comes from the leader of the U.S., at the time, Donald Trump referring to the virus as the "Chinese virus" and with the implication of those words created blame. This 'blame' did not stop at Asian-Americans of Chinese descent but to all from Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Pacific Islander, etc. With this blame and other hasty generalization hate crime increases ranging from vandalism to assaults to threats. In 2020, New York Police Department crime reports saw hate crime against Asians jumped 1,900% in New York City (Time 2021). A crime report database called Stop AAPI hate, created for the purpose of the increase in racial violence due to the pandemic, between March 19th and December 31 2020 has 2,808 reports of discrimination against Asians (Time 2021). One case is that of Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-years old Asian American, who was assaulted by 19-year old Antonio Watson in San Fransisco on January 28th, 2021. Ratanapakdee succumbs to injury he sustained dying two days after the attack. Below is a video featuring security footage taken of the assault:

The response from a government official to the increase in crimes is the utilization of police officers in communities. The NYPD created the Asian hate crimes task force, and Oakland police assigned a new liaison officer to the city’s Chinatown neighborhood (Abdollah and Hough 2021). With the increase in crimes committed against Asian-Americans, it is a safe inference that the relationship with the police has evolved since the NPR poll was taken in 2017.

In a USA Today article from February 2021 feature Oh, a Denver attorney of Korean heritage, who discussed how she felt the Chicago police never took her parent seriously when they would attempt to file complaints about frequent break-ins and robberies to their small business (Abdollah and Hough 2021). She talks about how the increase in racial tension and violence against Asian-Americans has pushed them to speak up and be heard (Abdollah and Hough 2021). However, it is not mentioned if it is by the police or just by the public/media.

The police relations with Asian-American have seemed neglected and overlooked until recently with the increase in awareness of racial tension since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.


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