‘Vital part of Las Vegas’: AAPIs, elected leaders denounce recent acts of hate

The Chinatown Plaza event on Thursday, April 1 was attended by dozens of community organizations representing Las Vegas’ many Asian American and Pacific Islander groups.  | AJPress photo by Robert Macabagdal

THOUGH no incidents of anti-Asian hate have been reported in Southern Nevada, members of the Las Vegas Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community were joined by Governor Steve Sisolak at a recent rally denouncing the violence occurring around the country.

A crowd of over 100 individuals, many of whom represent local organizations, gathered at Chinatown Plaza on Thursday, April 1, bearing signs and chanting along to slogans such as, “hate is a virus” and “stop Asian hate.”

The rally featured remarks from Sisolak, first lady Kathy Sisolak, who is of Chinese descent, and Rep. Dina Titus, whose district covers Chinatown and other neighborhoods with a sizable AAPI population.

“When you see these signs, — ‘stop Asian hate,’ ‘hate is a virus,’ ‘end violence’ — this community understands what we need,” the governor said. “And this community is an important part of diversity in the state of Nevada. As long as I am governor, know that you have a friend and first lady in Carson City who are going to do everything we can to bring peace to this community and to stop Asian hate.”

The governor and first lady last month held a roundtable discussion with local leaders in the wake of the Atlanta area spa shootings that killed eight individuals, six of whom were of Asian descent.

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak addresses the crowd at an anti-Asian violence rally in Las Vegas’ Chinatown Plaza on Thursday, April 1. He told community members that he and first lady Kathy Sisolak are “going to do everything we can to bring peace to this community and to stop Asian hate.” |  AJPress photo by Robert Macabagdal

Sisolak on Thursday said AAPI businesses “deserve our support and protection” as the state emerges from the pandemic.

“The tragic events in Atlanta just shone a light in the hatred and bigotry that have existed for a long time. But at least now, we can point it out more strongly. We can talk to law enforcement, talk to public officials and say, ‘Enough is enough,’” Titus said.

The congresswoman cited some measures under the Biden administration to counter the uptick in violence against the community, including the creation of a task force to combat xenophobia and a directive for the Justice Department to enforce hate crime laws. She also said she’s working with Rep. Grace Meng of New York “on a law to enhance penalties against hate crimes.”

“This community is a such vital part of Las Vegas — you are our teachers, our business partners, our neighbors, our friends and our family,” Titus said, adding that AAPIs constitute the fastest-growing population in her district.

Though there have not been hate incidents reported in the Silver State in high numbers compared to other states, Sisolak underscored that elected leaders need to send a message that they are standing in solidarity with the community.

“While there isn’t anything that’s been reported yet, it needs to say that way. We need to be proactive in terms of stopping this,” the governor told the Asian Journal.

The first lady said she’s hoping to use her platform to raise awareness.

“It’s really to support the Asian community, and if you can help, donate money to some of these causes to help with translation services, which is important, and if you’re qualified, help with legal services,” Kathy Sisolak told the Asian Journal. “If you see something, say something. If you see something violent, call 911 or intervene if you are capable.”

Chinatown Plaza was the location for another rally in recent weeks that community leaders held with representatives of the Las Vegas Metro Police Department to discuss the steps law enforcement is taking to prevent racist incidents.

Assistant Sheriff Andy Walsh said that while Las Vegas’ AAPI community isn’t seeing rampant incidents like in New York or San Francisco, he encouraged members to speak up in the event they experience hate and to call either the local 911 or 311 numbers.

“Underreporting is a challenge in some cities but I believe we have the faith and confidence of the Asian community that if something happens in this area that is criminal in nature that it is reported to the police,” Walsh told the Asian Journal following Thursday’s program. “Thankfully we haven’t seen any acts of violence or anything that we’ve seen in other cities.”

Rep. Susie Lee of Nevada’s 3rd congressional district on Wednesday, April 8 also held a Facebook live roundtable with local AAPI leaders.

Stop AAPI Hate said it received nearly 3,800 incidents of racism and discrimination — with verbal harassment, shunning and physical assault the top three types — across the country since it began in March 2020. The report found that women were 2.3 times more likely to experience hate compared to men.

Of that number, 503 incidents took place in the first two months of 2021.

Christina M. Oriel

Christina M. Oriel is an award-winning editor and communications strategist based in Los Angeles with experience in content, strategy and branding for media ecosystems, inclusive fintech startups, small businesses and direct-to-consumer products.

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