WASHINGTON — The Japanese American Citizens League released the following statement on July 6.
On Saturday, July 2, a family was assaulted in Portland, Oregon while riding their bicycles in a busy public space. The perpetrator verbally and physically attacked the family for being Japanese; the man was arrested and faces two counts of felonies of first and second degree bias. He was apprehended thanks to the intervention and the help of many passers-by.
The family members who were attacked, the father and his 5-year-old daughter, escaped serious injury, despite reports that the attacker repeatedly punched the girl in the head.
This attack is particularly 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 assassins mistakenly believed he was Japanese and blamed him for the ongoing trade wars and troubles in the American auto industry that led to their unemployment.
As we have seen all too often over the past two years with the growing reports of anti-Asian hate incidents, the underlying racism that led to Vincent Chin’s murder continues to persist to this day.
One aspect of this incident that stands out is the intervention of bystanders. JACL applauds those who have come forward to stop the violence and ensure the perpetrator is apprehended by the police. These people are the heroes who kept the violence from escalating.
“We are grateful for the quick response of those in the vicinity of the attack who represent the true hearts of the people of Portland,” said Portland JACL Chapter President Jeff Matsumoto. “Like the vast majority of Portlanders, we are appalled by the racist attack that has occurred as yet another example of anti-Asian bias and hatred that we call on all of our fellow citizens to condemn and intervene when they see it happening.”