Policing Is Not The Answer To Growing Anti-Asian Racism. May I Suggest An Alternative?

Photo: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock  
Bay area

Anti-Asian hate crimes are on the rise and they've been rising ever since Asian Americans have been used as a scapegoat for COVID-19, with the Trump administration calling it the “Kung Flu” or the “Chinese virus”.

Elderly Asians have especially been the target of these hate crimes. Stop AAPI Hate has received more than 2,808 reports of anti-Asian discrimination from March to December of 2020. 

RELATED: The Racism I Faced For Being Asian-American During COVID-19

With such havoc occurring in the AAPI community, there have been calls for more policing to ensure the safety of the AAPI community.

RELATED: 6 Ways To Be An Ally For Asian-Americans Right Now

In August of 2020, the NYPD announced the creation of an Asian Hate Crime Task Force to deter crimes against the AAPI community. 

But creating a police task force that will increase the presence of police in our communities will only hurt the AAPI community and continue to use the AAPI community as a wedge for anti-Black sentiment. 

We often conflate safety with policing and trust that the state has our best interest at hand but state-sponsored violence is not unfamiliar. It has and is still happening until this day.

There have been so many instances in history where police presence has only made things worse. In fact, police themselves have been the perpetrators of violence against the AAPI community, especially against immigrants who are not native English speakers and have limited English skills. 

CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities has documented instances where the police have used racial slurs such as “Chink” or have told AAPI immigrants to “Go back to your country!” In total, CAAV documented 52 instances of police brutality within the AAPI community from 1993-1995. 

In recent years, police have constantly harassed AAPI street vendors in NYC, where most street vendors are immigrants or people of color. They have also harassed NYC taxi drivers, where over 60% of cab drivers are of Arab, South Asian, or North African descent. 

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Policing AAPI communities is NOT the answer to the growing anti-Asian sentiment happening in NYC and around the nation. Policing only serves to enter our communities into prison, where they will be at risk of losing their jobs, houses, and/or families. This is NOT what justice for our community looks like. 

During a time where safety is a concern for the AAPI community, cross-cultural communities need to work together to disrupt violence and racism in the community.

RELATED: Spike In Anti-Asian Racism Calls For More Cross-Cultural Solidarity Than Ever — Here's How

In the Bay Area, Jimmy Bounphengsy started a local community patrol initiative in the Bay Area's Chinatown due to the recent spike in attacks of elderly Asian folks. This initiative is an example of alternatives to policing and how the community can work together to fight violence and racism. 

Bounphengsy organizes his family, friends, neighbors, and community to patrol the Chinatown area on foot to help deter attacks on the AAPI community, especially the most vulnerable populations (elderly, children, etc…).

As of February 11, Bounphengsy has organized about 8 patrol walks, even encouraging his daughter to join in. And according to KRON4, other volunteers have also offered to chaperone elderly Asians around the community. 

Bounphengsy is a great example showing that there are other ways to keep the community safe, alongside continued education and inter-community dialogue. 

Forget the police, let’s mobilize the community to keep each other safe.

Angelique Beluso is a sex educator and writer who covers feminism, pop culture and relationship topics. Follow her on Instagram @ArtistNamedAngelique.