Since the COVID-19, Corona Virus pandemic reached our shores, members of our Asian community have had to endure the unthinkable. Acts of harassment, discrimination and even assaults have been occurring throughout America. Apparently originating in Wuhan, China, and fueled by political rhetoric, this virus seems to have become an excuse for some to blame anyone they see as Asian, and therefore, Chinese, for everything COVID!
Rational people, of course don’t understand this, however, the facts speak for themselves. One March 26th article sites 650 acts of racism just in the previous week nationwide! On March 27th, the FBI issued a warning to law enforcement agencies across America of a potential surge in hate crimes against Asian Americans. A report by A3PCON, the Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council for the period of March 26th through April 1st reported:
- 1,135 cases of some type of in person harassment, online harassment, violence, shunning, vandalism, or workplace discrimination.
- Women were harassed at twice the rate as men.
- Children were involved in 6.3% of incidents.
- Significant numbers of incidents took place in grocery stores, pharmacies and big box retail stores
- 93% of the persons who were harassed primarily spoke English, with only 7% speaking another language such as Japanese, Chinese, Korean or Vietnamese.
Because these incidents come from the perspective of HATE, the Staff and Board of International Management District encourage all victims of such behavior to immediately contact local law enforcement authorities. Even if the attack is only hurling insults, the potential for escalation is very real. When someone has the nerve to attack you verbally, that person has already in their own mind dehumanized you. Such a mindset creates an environment in which the next step, physical assault, becomes acceptable, and perhaps, in their minds, even appropriate.
So what are law enforcement professions telling us about how to respond to such incidents? We reached out to our community partner at HPD’s Westside Division, Lieutenant Tim Trometer for advice. He suggested that citizens could review Houston Police Department’s personal safety guide which can be found at https://www.houstontx.gov/police/keep_houston_safe/index.htm He advised that this site was a great resource and hoped the public would get familiar with its many helpful tips.
Here are the specifics of what Lt. Trometer had to say:
- Always stay alert to your surroundings and avoid locations/situations that make you more vulnerable to crime such as alleys or dark parking lots.
- Avoid distractions that decrease your awareness level, i. e. talking on a cell phone or wearing headphones.
- Walk with a purpose to communicate a message of confidence. Make eye contact with people, however, do not engage in conversations with strangers on the street.
- Travel with family and friends. Walking in a group decreases your chances of becoming a victim.
- Stay in well lighted areas and avoid short-cuts through deserted areas.
- Avoid displaying large amounts of cash or other tempting items such as expensive jewelry and clothing.
- Always trust your instincts. If a person or place makes you uneasy, leave.
Practicing these personal safety tips, says Trometer, reduces the opportunities criminals look for when targeting a crime victim. The Lieutenant strongly recommends citizens report any and all incidents of harassment or race based attacks. Such incidents, he says, can encompass a wide range of criminal offenses, so the easiest way to determine the actual criminal offense is to notify the police department and have an officer investigate the incident. Reporting he says is also critical in making the police aware of crime trends and patterns and where/how to deploy department resources.
Once again, the Board and Staff members of International Management District want you to be safe, so please consider the following:
- When you venture out, do so with friends and family.
- Avoid acknowledging a verbal attack and remove yourself from the threat. Go to a well illuminated public place or location where there are people gathered.
- Call the police! Even if you are only verbally harassed. Don’t let them get away with it! Every successful attack, verbal or physical, only emboldens the violator to continue or escalate his behavior.