Mayor Eric Garcetti joined City Councilman John Lee, the second Asian American to serve on the L.A. City Council, and Councilwoman Nithya Raman, the council’s first South Asian American, to declare Tuesday Asian American Pacific Islander L.A. Day.
The declaration comes as the city is celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which is observed across the U.S. in May to recognize the community’s contributions to the nation’s history, culture and achievements.
Garcetti celebrated the proclamation, but noted that the declaration comes after the community was “scapegoated” during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a 76% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes reported in Los Angeles County in 2020.
“Bigotry impacted people’s livelihoods too, because at the start of the pandemic, Asian-owned businesses reported as much as an 80% reduction in customers,” Garcetti added. “So this hit people in their pocketbooks, it hit people in their hearts, and often it hit them in their bodies.”
Following the increase in hate crimes, the city’s newly created Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department launched its “L.A. For All Campaign” during last year’s Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The anti-hate public service announcement campaign is the largest in the city’s history, with ads in 4,200 spaces and translated into 18 languages to spread the word on how to report hate crimes.
“Last year, we were very vocal about the increase in hate crimes toward the AAPI community and there was a spark that ultimately brought so many communities together in support of … the Asian and Pacific Islander (community) throughout the country,” said Lee.
“… But like countless other issues, once the interest peaks on any type of subject, often the conversation dies down as well. And for the AAPI community, that doesn’t mean that the issues we are facing have magically disappeared,” Lee added.
He said the declaration of May 3 as Asian American Pacific Islander L.A. Day will extend beyond the 24 hours and provide the AAPI community with a channel to promote its voices and stories.
“Only through sharing our collective experiences will we be able to understand that the things that we are facing, we are not facing alone,” he said.
Raman said that the declaration as AAPI L.A. Day is a commitment from the city to honor the AAPI community’s history and to do better.
“The AAPI community is an essential and vibrant part of this city,” she said. “No one can deny that, and with this proclamation, we are recommitting to uplifting and amplifying these voices of a historically marginalized community and increasing access to outreach and resources.”