Truthout, February 18, 2021
Asian Americans are crying out against an escalation of anti-Asian attacks in San Francisco, San Jose, New York, and all across the United States. In light of the scant media coverage, Asian American celebrities like Daniel Dae Kim, Daniel Wu, and cast members from the blockbuster film Crazy Rich Asians have taken to social media to raise awareness of Asian elders who have been brutalized and killed. While calling out anti-Asian racism and violence is vital, the violence that Asian Americans experience is deeper than just hateful attitudes or interpersonal racial bias, it is also a story of state violence, including police-perpetrated violence– a truth that has received even less public attention.
Christian Hall, a 19-year-old Chinese American, was killed by the police on December 30, 2020. Hall was experiencing a mental health crisis when confronted by Pennsylvania state troopers. The troopers alleged that Hall had a weapon in his hand, although footage shows he had his hands up with no weapons in sight, which is when the police shot and killed him. Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney who represents the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, is now representing Hall’s family to demand justice. Meanwhile, the celebrities drawing attention to anti-Asian attacks are not demanding justice for Christian Hall or his parents, Fe and Gareth Hall.
In 2017, Tommy Le, a 20-year-old Vietnamese American, was shot in the back by deputies in Washington State. The sheriff’s office claimed that Le was brandishing a knife and charged at the officers. The sheriff’s office would later admit that Le was not holding a knife, but a Paper Mate ballpoint pen. Le was supposed to graduate from high school the day after the police killed him.