People of Faith Response to Violence Against AAPI Community
We, faith leaders and members of People Acting in Community Together (PACT)'s clergy caucus, are circulating the statement below as a collective response to violence against the AAPI community. We invite you to sign on to our statement, circulate it to community members, and join us in a public action standing up against anti-Asian violence on August 7, Saturday, 10am-12nn.

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The past year has been an extraordinary time of revelation. The ever-present injustices in our society are being witnessed as they never have been before, exacerbated as they are by the COVID-19 pandemic and its resultant financial burdens. We, the members of the PACT clergy caucus, deliberately employ the language of revelation, because while we acknowledge that this time feels exceptional, the truth is that these injustices--caused by racism, xenophobia, the hoarding of wealth and power, and the many other evils of White Supremacy--have been part and parcel of the United States since its founding on stolen land, stolen people, and stolen labor.

In the past year, the United States has seen an unprecedented rise in violence and hate crimes against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. In March of this year, a mass shooter in Atlanta targeted and killed six women of Asian descent. While at first this brought a conversation to the national level about the rising violence against AAPI people, the majority of Americans and the media now seem to have moved on.

The Stop AAPI Hate Reporting Center released data in March of 2021 that revealed that during the pandemic year of March 2020-February 2021, they received nearly 3,800 reports of hate incidents. The majority of these incidents consisted of verbal harassment against women, and there was also an alarming increase in the number of public, physical attacks on older people.

The perpetrators of this violence are attacking the most vulnerable in our midst, and as people of faith, we will not be silent.

In the past year, we faith leaders made statements in support of Black Lives Matter, marched in solidarity with people calling for police accountability, and urged elected officials to work with the community in reimagining public safety. The fight against White Supremacy is not a zero-sum game but an intertwined, cross-sectional fight against all forms of prejudice and hate-motivated violence against all marginalized people.

So now we, a multiracial, multicultural, multi-religious group of clergy and faith leaders, name the rising violence against the AAPI community with the same fervor that we have spoken out about police brutality against Black and Brown people. Now we call on our city and county elected officials and on all community leaders to acknowledge both the past and present history of anti-AAPI racism in our midst. We urge these leaders to recognize and honor the myriad ways that AAPI peoples have contributed and are contributing to the building of our society, structurally, culturally, and spiritually. We demand that these leaders implement policies and practices that ensure the dignity, respect, and safety of AAPI communities, and that these leaders take clear and decisive action in response to anti-AAPI violence or harassment.

Calls to Action:
1.Establish and promote ethnic studies
We support a comprehensive ethnic studies curriculum that centers the narratives of AAPI and other marginalized communities throughout California’s school districts, such as that endorsed by Ethnic Studies Now (https://www.ethnicstudiesnow.com/). One excellent source on the story of activist Fred Korematsu and the subject of Japanese Internment is found at https://korematsuinstitute.org/.
Report incidents of anti-Asian violence to Stop AAPI Hate here, and publicly speak out against anti-Asian violence and hate. (https://stopaapihate.org/reportincident/)

2.Support and participate in the movement to reimagine public safety:
We call for divestment from prisons and police, and investment into education, mental and physical healthcare, and social services.

3.We call on Santa Clara County and San Jose City Council to identify state and federal hate crime bills and policies, and channel these bills’ funding away from police and towards education, mental health, and community training on de-escalation. We oppose initiatives that purport to protect our communities from hate by channeling more funds to prisons and police.

4. Join us in a community action on August 7th at 10am-12pm, at San Jose Japantown (5th & Jackson) to decry anti-Asian violence and discuss next steps in our fight for justice and community safety. The march to San Jose city hall begins at 10:30am. The rally at San Jose city hall is 11am-12pm.

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