The Elk Grove City Council on March 24 adopted a resolution condemning and combating hate, violence, racism, xenophobia and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
This resolution was previously suggested by the council during their Feb. 24 meeting, in response to the growing number of crimes against Asian American and Pacific Islander people across the country.
According to a city staff report, Asian American and Pacific Islander people make up 30% of Elk Grove’s diverse population.
City Council Member Kevin Spease expressed his thoughts on hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
“Hate against Asian American Pacific Islanders is not acceptable,” he said. “It is not acceptable against anyone. So, for those people in the back of the room who may not be listening or for those who may need to hear this who are not currently present, you need to understand that mocking, marginalizing, assaulting and killing is not cute, funny or cool.
“Hate and any resulting violence, in so far as governed by the law, should be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible. Let’s treat each other with peace, love and respect.”
Council Member Pat Hume added that he is against hate “against anyone, anywhere at any time.”
Vice Mayor Stephanie Nguyen noted that although she appreciates that awareness has been brought to this issue, she desires further awareness.
“I look forward to doing more than just this resolution here,” she said.
Echoing that sentiment, Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen said she agreed with Nguyen.
“Resolutions can be words on paper and so we do need to do more and step up,” she said.
The new resolution furthers the city’s stance against hate. In 2016, the City Council proclaimed Elk Grove a “No Place for Hate” city.
In addition to denouncing anti-Asian hate, the council expressed their support of two legislative bills, including Assembly Bill (AB) 886, which was authored by Assembly Member Rob Bonta, D-Oakland.
AB 886 would provide support for hate violence victims and avenues of restorative justice.
The council also supports AB 266, which was authored by Assembly Member Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove.
That bill would reclassify the most violent incidents of hate crimes from nonviolent to violent, and individuals convicted and sent to state prisons for the most heinous acts of hate would no longer be eligible for early release in some cases.
Kara Reddig, the city’s deputy city manager, mentioned in the meeting that the city of Elk Grove plans to write letters in support of these two bills.
Reddig also noted that the city will be promoting the awareness and utilization of the website, www.StopAAPIHate.org.
The city’s promotion of this website will be conducted through its Diversity and Inclusion Commission members and its website and social media channels.
Mayor criticized by
During the public comment period of this agenda item, several speakers criticized Singh-Allen for allegedly ignoring local Hmong community members while simultaneously denouncing hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Elk Grove.
A day earlier, Elk Grove Hmong Americans (EGHA), an activist group, held a press conference outside Elk Grove City Hall to announce their recall campaign against Singh-Allen.
The group, which alleges that Singh-Allen made derogatory comments that targeted the Hmong community, also organized a protest rally last August against Singh-Allen during her 2020 mayoral campaign. That November, she defeated incumbent Steve Ly who was elected as America’s first Hmong mayor in 2016.
The Hmong activist group is currently working to gather about 10,000 signatures to qualify for placing the recall issue on a city election ballot.
Singh-Allen, a former Elk Grove Unified School District trustee, joined the mayoral race last summer after becoming one of several local women to allege they were harassed by Ly’s associates or supporters.
A month earlier, she used her personal Facebook page to refer to the Hmong patriarchal clan system as a “controlling and intimidating system used to attack and silence these women.” It was that statement, which led to protests against Singh-Allen that also included an online petition for her to resign from the school board.
Mia Foster, one of the activist group’s founders, mentioned that the recall campaign was initiated because of the alleged anti-Asian hate Singh-Allen “instigated against the Hmong community last summer and her refusal to take responsibility for the harm she caused.”
Foster commented on the council members’ consideration of the city’s anti-Asian hate resolution.
“While I appreciate when you’re finally speaking up about anti-Asian hate, your silence on Bobbie’s attacks on the Hmong community has been deeply and disturbingly noted,” she said. “You use politics to justify racism. You refuse to speak up, think that we would go away. But we’re still here and we’re not going anywhere.”
Foster concluded that she believes the resolution is simply “political posturing.”
“It is my belief that this resolution is just more political posturing on your part to hide the fact that when it comes to the people, none of you really care,” she said.
Sai Vang, an EGHA co-founder, addressed the council members in the meeting.
“To all you council members, do you think that by adopting the anti-Asian hate resolution, (it) does anything?” she asked. “If you want to do it right, at least start off by acknowledging the racist person next to you.
“I said it last time and I’ll say it again, just because Bobbie is Asian does not make her immune to being a racist. What she is doing is causing a division within the community, even more by stereotyping us.”
Singh-Allen responded to allegations made against her by members of the activist group.
“I have never said anything against an entire community and culture,” she said. “I did stand up against the former mayor and his associates who were harassing and intimidating women.
“It is a shame when people can’t accept election outcomes, absolutely, and use division to create greater fears within our community. Our historic (election) win was about uniting our community in the process. Using the racism card is dangerous and desensitizes communities when tackling real racism in our country.”
Mayor introduces ‘buddy program,’ new tip line
Prior to the council’s adoption of the city’s Asian American, Pacific Islander anti-hate resolution, a press conference was held earlier in the day to announce supporting resources for local Asians and Pacific Islanders.
During that press conference outside Elk Grove City Hall, Singh-Allen announced a new “buddy program,” which is a partnership between the city’s police department and local nonprofit community organizations.
“(That program) will allow residents to feel safer and more secure,” she said. “The Elk Grove Police Department will assist with the coordination of the program for Elk Grove.
“A new tip line has been set up to report any hate crimes, attacks or harassment. The police department will also provide referrals to our local nonprofits for residents needing assistance.”
Among the nonprofits participating in the program are Asian Pacific American Advocates, the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs, the Indian Association of Sacramento, and the Interfaith Council of Elk Grove.
Information about the “buddy program” can be obtained by calling (916) 691-5246.
Singh-Allen added that she plans to host a series of webinars this year, with an effort to “break down barriers and foster a better understanding of each other.”
The first segment of her upcoming webinars is titled, “Being Asian, Being American.”
“It will profile local voices from different cultures in Asia, so that we can have a better understanding of each other,” she said. “A source of Elk Grove’s strength has always been with its people. Our community is diverse and compassionate, and we will get through this together, as we always do.”