ORLANDO, Fla. - Asian Americans from Orange County are speaking out against hate crimes upon Asian American Pacific Islanders after nationwide attacks.
Mimi Chan is a martial arts instructor as well as a member of the Orange County Citizens Safety Taskforce. She is concerned about hate crimes happening to Asian Americans around the country and here at home.
"I’ve been really appalled and angry, to be honest about the attacks," she told FOX 35 News.
The group Stop AAPI Hate received nearly 3,800 reports of hate crimes against Asian American Pacific Islanders since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Many suffered backlash after COVID-19 was referred to as the 'Chinese Virus' and 'Kung Flu.'
Mimi says one of her Asian American customers was verbally assaulted as he sat at a traffic light, stating that "they were saying, 'the virus is your fault,' a lot of the things your hearing now, 'China virus' and 'you’re the reason this is going on.' I was just heartbroken because this is an older man."
Shirley Wang said she was also victimized at a local store, saying that someone "pointed to my face and said 'you are full of propaganda, this is all your fault.' Not a single person stepped in to try to see what was going on. And that really was shocking to my system."
Around 25 years ago, Mimi was actually used as the character model for the movie Mulan. And like the iconic Disney character, she hopes to help protect others.
"If everybody can, they should be able to protect themselves and use self-defense in a physical aspect, but I think more than anything we need to keep our eyes and ears open," she explained.
Several members of the community came together for a panel that FOX 35 organized this morning.
Newlyn Wing, (NAAAP) National Association of Asian American Professionals said during it, "if we can start bridging those gaps and coming together more as a whole, then we’ll start to reduce the number of incidents that happen like this."
James Chan, AAPI Caucus Co-Chair and New Leaders Council hope the legislation will be approved to protect Asian Americans, saying that, "the U.S. House Judiciary Committee is having a hearing on these attacks on Asian Americans and violence that we’re facing and it’s a reminder that there’s hate crime legislation moving through the United States House, but it might stall in the Senate.
He added that "we encourage our Floridians to call our two U.S. Senators to quickly pass this in Congress. So we can have someone dedicated to reviewing hate crimes against Asian Americans."
Shally Wong, Orange County Community Liaison and Orange County Asian Committee Leader added, "we are trying to be proactive. We would love to see what we can do to have a support system that we can report."
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office released this statement on the matter:
"We want all members of our community to always be vigilant and to let us know if they see or hear of anything suspicious or violent. We certainly want the members of our Asian American community to report any suspicious or threatening activity – no matter how insignificant it may seem."
Onchantho Am of the Greater Orlando Asian American Bar Association (GOAABA) told FOX 35 that "just because the reports are not there, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. It could be a possibility that folks are not aware that they have certain rights."
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She is also organizing a panel with the FBI and Stop AAPI Hate in April.
If you have a hate crime you’d like to report, file a report with local law enforcement. You can also message someone at the Orange County Asian Committee Facebook page for guidance or Stop AAPI Hate at https://stopaapihate.org/
Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.