‘These attacks feel more personal’: California’s Fil-Am chief justice responds to violence against Asian Americans

California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye

CALIFORNIA Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye has condemned the violent attacks against Asians and Asian Americans in the United States.

In a statement issued on Friday, March 19, the Filipina American chief justice shared that the recent hate crimes felt “more personal” since she is a member of the community being targeted.

“Anti-Asian violence, like any violence based on prejudice, bias, or fear of the other, is reprehensible. Because of who I am as an Asian-Filipina, because of my parents, my aunties, friends, and connected communities of color, these attacks feel more personal,” said Cantil-Sakauye.

Nearly 3,800 anti-Asian incidents have been reported in all 50 states and the District of Columbia from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021, according to new data from Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition that tracks such incidents.

Of that number, 503 incidents took place in the first two months of 2021 alone. Some of the attacks have also resulted in deaths like the case of 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee, who died from injuries after he was knocked on the ground during a morning walk in San Francisco; and 74-year-old Juanito Falcon who sustained a skull fracture injury after he was punched in the face in an unprovoked attack, as previously reported by the Asian Journal.

Recently, a series of attacks in Atlanta left eight people dead, six of whom were Asian women.

Cantil-Sakauye, for her part, urged everyone to “do better,” noting the country’s inefficiency in addressing racism.

“We can and must do better. We deepen our understanding by advancing diversity and respecting our differences. In respecting our differences, we strengthen our social contract. In strengthening our social contract, we abide by the rule of law,” she said.

“As we pass and approach many anniversaries relating to the pandemic, it is disheartening that while we have made progress on the virus, the disease of racism remains,” she added.

Cantil-Sakauye is the first Asian American and Filipina American and the second woman to serve as California’s chief justice. She was nominated in 2010 by then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for the state’s highest judicial office and was retained in office by voters later that year.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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