WASHINGTON — The Japanese American Citizens League issued the following statement on July 6.
On Saturday, July 2, a family was assaulted in Portland, Oregon while bicycling in a well-traveled and public space. The assailant verbally and physically attacked the family because they were Japanese; the man has been arrested and faces two counts of bias crimes in the first and second degrees. He was apprehended due to the intervention and assistance of numerous bystanders.
The family members who were attacked, the father and his 5-year-old daughter, escaped serious injury, despite reports of the assailant striking the girl multiple times in the head.
This attack is especially distressing coming a few weeks after the commemoration of the murder of Vincent Chin 40 years ago. Vincent Chin, a Chinese American, was murdered because his killers mistakenly believed he was Japanese and blamed him for the ongoing trade wars and difficulties in the American auto industry which led to their unemployment.
As we have seen all too often in the past two years with the rising reports of anti-Asian hate incidents, the underlying racism that led to the murder of Vincent Chin continues to persist to this day.
One aspect of this incident that does distinguish itself is the intervention from the bystanders. JACL applauds the individuals who stepped forward to stop the violence and ensure the perpetrator was apprehended by the police. These people are the heroes who made sure that the violence did not escalate.
“We are grateful for the swift intervention of the people in the vicinity of the attack who represent the true hearts of Portland residents,” stated Portland JACL Chapter President Jeff Matsumoto. “Like the vast majority of Portland residents, we are appalled at the racist attack that occurred as yet another example of anti-Asian bias and hatred which we call upon all our fellow citizens to condemn and intervene when they see it happening.”