IDAHO — Across the country, Americans have rallied to raise awareness about hate crimes and discrimination against Asian American Pacific Islanders Communities.
At a local level efforts are continuing to shed light on the issue with AAPI groups having discussions with top officials.
“The conversation was really about the safety of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Communities concerns, especially for our elderly. To express our concern to see what we can do to reduce these kinds of attacks, harassment toward Asian community members,” said Yong Gao, president of the Idaho Chinese Organization.
Gao said several AAPI leaders have met with officials via virtual, including U.S. Attorney for the District of Idaho Rafael Gonzalez. The effort was too start a conversation about hate crimes or incidents against Asian communities and taking steps to prevent them from happening locally.
But according to a national report by STOP, AAPI HATE there were nearly 3,800 hate incidents reported from March 20, 2020, to February of this year across the U.S. 68 percent was verbal harassment and 20 percent shunning.
On March 23 Gao was one of the hundreds of people gathered in solitary during a vigil at the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise to pay respects to APPI community members impacted by hate crimes and the victims of the Atlanta Spa shootings.
Ed Klopfenstein honorary consul of Japan in Idaho spoke at the vigil and has been part of the discussions with officials. He said Idaho is one of the friendly places he has ever lived but understands there could be more done to make everyone feel welcome.
“There are issues here but I think it’s up to everybody to make sure all people are welcome in the state, no matter who they are. we have a state of inclusivity of kindness,” Klopfenstein said.
Gao said she’s appreciated officials listening to their concerns.
“To work with us, because they ensure us regarding hate crimes the attorney’s office and prosecuting office, law enforcement are willing to investigate.”
On Tuesday, Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii said hate crimes against AAPI communities are going unreported. Hirono is sponsoring an Anti-Asian hate bill and asking for republicans of the House and Senate to support the legislation.
The Senate is poised to debate legislation confronting the rise of potential hate crimes against Asian Americans. https://t.co/7tL666q5hb— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) April 14, 2021
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden appointed Erika Moritsugu as Deputy Assistant to the President and Asian American and Pacific Islander Senior Liaison.
Sen. Hirono issued a statement on the decision.
"Erika is an excellent choice to serve as the White House AAPI Senior Liaison. I’m proud to say that Erika is from Hawaii and that I’ve known her family for decades. Erika’s designation as a deputy assistant to the president demonstrates that the White House heard the AAPI community’s call for this role to be a senior level position. I have confidence that Erika will use her deep experience in Congress, the Executive Branch, and as an advocate to be a champion for the AAPI community in this administration.”