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L.A. County leaders move to expand anti-racist initiative to include Asian Americans

A child holds a sign that reads "Stronger United."
People gather during a rally against anti-Asian American and Pacific Islander sentiment and hate hosted by the Korean American Federation of Los Angeles in Koreatown on March 27. Hundreds showed their support for the cause by marching down Olympic Boulevard.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Following several violent attacks against Asian Americans, L.A. County leaders on Tuesday launched an initiative to explore how to better combat hate crimes in the county.

The county Board of Supervisors approved the creation of a work group that will make specific recommendations next month.

The work group will also determine the feasibility of launching the L.A. County Equity and Diversity Fund, which would finance anti-racist research and art that celebrates communities of color. The goal would be to raise an initial $1 million from county and philanthropic organizations.

“The escalation of attacks against AAPI Americans has been a heartbreaking reminder of how far we have to go toward building a society where everyone can feel safe, accepted and equal,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, who authored the motion, using an abbreviation for the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

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L.A. County is home to some of the largest populations in the United States of Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Indonesian, Korean, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese and Thai Americans, according to the motion.

D’Artagnan Scorza, the county’s executive director of racial equity, said at Tuesday’s board meeting that since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an exponential growth in violence and hate against Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.

In 2020, Los Angeles police saw a 114% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes, Scorza said.

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“This has occurred largely because of very public and racist rhetoric rooted in harmful stereotypes,” Scorza said.

Even in L.A. County, these residents “are not safe from this type of hatred and bigotry,” Scorza said.

Last year, following the killing of George Floyd, the county approved an anti-racist policy agenda that directs all departments to make combating racism against Black residents a priority. Tuesday’s proposal would expand that work to include Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.

Supervisor Holly Mitchell, who coauthored the motion, said that although the county already has an anti-hate initiative, L.A. vs. Hate, it must do more.

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“Awareness is not enough,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got to take action.”


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