Anti-Asian Violence Toolkit
The COVID-19 pandemic spurred hashtags like #StopAsianHate, but Asian Americans have encountered violence since we arrived in the United States. More than a century ago, Chinatowns came into being when immigrants sought safe places to live, free from the mob violence that drove them out of established communities. Attempts to marginalize Asian people also took the form of exclusionary federal immigration laws and state laws barring Asian people from owning land. History repeated itself in subsequent decades when the federal government incarcerated Japanese Americans during World War II, and detained, deported, and surveilled South Asian and Muslim people after 9/11.
The pandemic brought unprecedented challenges for everyone, but for Asian Americans, the pandemic also brought a painful reminder that we don’t belong. Instead, we are treated as a foreign peril and a threat. Blaming China for the pandemic and casting China as a threat to American people sets the stage for the next chapter of discrimination against Asian Americans.
With that history in mind, this toolkit is a guide for working together to keep our communities safe, based on our experience as a legal organization supporting community groups and community members. For many people, the law does not always offer the kind of resolution that they expect or need. Most acts of verbal harassment or discrimination, which comprise the majority of incidents, do not fall under criminal law, and other legal avenues can be time-consuming and expensive. We advise on various legal options, even when they offer limited relief. But, in our advocacy work and our work providing direct support, we also focus on the root causes of harm and building up communities so that people who are attacked feel less isolated and fearful.
The toolkit has two parts. Section one offers a framework for formulating demands and policies related to safety and anti-Asian sentiment. Section two offers guidance for supporting community members who have been harmed.