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‘We have to do better’: town hall with SD leaders push for support for AAPI community

By Zara Barker,


SAN DIEGO — The Asian Pacific Islander Initiative hosted a town hall Sunday for the community to talk with leaders and local policymakers to share concerns and inform them of what the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community needs.

They also pushed for policy change after recent traumatic events.

“We have to do better,” said Sean Elo-Rivera, San Diego City Council president said during the town hall.

Vigil held in City Heights to remember victims of Monterey Park, Half Moon Bay shootings

“We’re your neighbor, our kids are classmates,” said JoAnn Fields, government and public relations director of the Asian Pacific Islander (API) Initiative.

“It’s hard to see and hear about communities and people being attacked, that look like me. Who look like my parents, who like my aunties and uncles that are around here,” said Lena Huang, who attended the town hall.

“They’re (AAPI community) very concerned after years of hatred directed at them through the pandemic. To know a series of mass shootings that have been focused on this community. There’s a tension, there’s concern, there’s a fear,” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said.

Fields said this town hall was sparked after the mass shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay.

“We appreciate that we have more support when it comes to mental health, but it seems like it’s easier to get guns versus getting an appointment for cultural sensitive mental health support,” Fields said.

Those in attendance discussed needing more than thoughts and prayers and want to see policies and practices to prevent further violence in the AAPI community.

“We’re not just going to talk about it, we are going to document it and we are going to seek action,” Fields said.

Information on the next town hall from the Asian Pacific Islander Initiative can be found here .

Some of the immediate changes they discussed were more culturally sensitive support and community centers, plus more training for police officers.

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