This tumultuous year has proven the essential nature of nonpartisan local news. Every day we bring you news critical to staying informed and active in the community. Join us with a tax-deductible donation.

The words “No Hate” will be emblazoned across Orange County’s sky today at 6 p.m. 

The message is paid for by Kien Nguyen, 76-year-old Vietnamese American grandmother and Fountain Valley Resident who has repeatedly been a target of racist rhetoric when out exercising in the park.

“Oftentimes, seniors would think that they’re alone in those experiences but now more and more of them are speaking out because they’ve seen the horrible images on television of people brutally attacked, stabbed, and in some cases killed because they are Asian American,” said Tam Nguyen, co-founder of Nailing it For America, an all volunteer advocacy group.

Nailing it For America has been helping provide personal protective equipment and meals to healthcare workers during the pandemic and Kien has been contributing to the group by donating food and money to help their efforts.

The group has also been holding several events recently calling to Stop Asian Hate after a stark rise in hate crimes against the Asian community not only in Orange County, but in the nation since the start of the pandemic. 

“We don’t take any comfort in having to have our third vigil in three weeks,” Tam said. “We wish we lived in a community and in a country where we wouldn’t have these rallies or these kinds of vigils. But unfortunately, that’s simply not the case.”

[ Read: Community Members Call on Orange County to ‘Stop Asian Hate’ and Remember The Dead ]

Middle to right, Joseph Gu, 21, and Ashley Chu, 26, stand in front of the luminarias with other community members on March 4, 2021. They prepare for a moment of silence led by religious leaders. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

Nailing it For America will hold an event in collaboration with the Garden Grove Police Department and the Vietnamese Martial Arts Center at Advance Beauty College in Garden Grove at 5:00 p.m. to learn about personal safety and self defense tactics.

“It’s really sad that we have to even consider having these types of activities, that we have to protect ourselves by teaching self defense tactics, that we have to have a police department share personal safety information in case something happens and the likelihood of that something has grown exponentially larger,” Tam said.

Then at 7:30 p.m. faith leaders and community members will go to the nearby Community Center Park for a candlelight vigil to pray for peace and safety. The candles will be digital for public safety reasons and Luminarias filled with community members’ prayers and wishes will be placed at a pond.

The event is to honor the 10 people who were killed at a grocery store shooting in Colorado on Monday as well as the people killed in a shooting in Georgia. The recent killings is the second mass shooting in the country in a span of a week.

Last Tuesday A 21-year-old white man was charged with the murders of 8 people in Atlanta – a majority of whom were Asian women. Many in the County and across the country believe the violent attack was fueled by racism and a history of hypersexualization of Asian women.

“Asian Americans have been put in a very difficult position especially women because of the fact that we’re so hypersexualized and fetishized and the conversations around racialized misogyny don’t necessarily come up around Asian women,” Garden Grove Councilwoman Kim Nguyen said in a phone interview.

[Read: Community Calls to Stop Asian Hate Continue in Orange County in Wake of Atlanta Killings ]

An Increase in Hate Crimes Against the Asian American Community

Hate incidents against Asian Americans in the county have increased tenfold between 2019 and 2020, according to Alison Edwards, CEO of the Orange County Human Relations Council.

The organization is still very much collecting data on such incidents from the past year.

Nearly 4,000 incidents of violence and hate nationally were reported between March 19, 2020 to Feb. 28, 2021 to the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center – an organization which started in response to the rise of racism towards Asian Americans at the start of the pandemic.

California Penal Code defines a hate crime as a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of the victim’s race, gender, disability, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.

In response to the increase of violence to the Asian Americans, Garden Grove police have increased patrols around areas where elderly folks live, shop and exercise.

“I believe that the chief of police indicated that he had been directly outreaching to Asian American businesses within the city in light of everything that’s been going on. Last year, we passed a resolution taking a position in solidarity with the community and against anti Asian hate crimes,” Kim said.

She added that Asian Americans make up a third of the city’s population.

The city also has a new multi-language hotline to report non-emergency hate crimes and incidents. 

To do so call: (714) 741-5704

A History of Hate

Anti-Asian sentiment is nothing new in Orange County or the U.S, but it’s grown since the start of the pandemic.

[ Read: Orange County Grapples With Wave of Hate Toward Asian Americans Over Coronavirus ]

Councilwoman Kim said America has a long and violent history of dehumanizing Asian Americans and said it’s important to report hate crimes.

“These crimes happen and they’re targeted towards us and if we don’t speak up now then this is never going to change,” she said.

Kim also added it is important to stand in solidarity with other communities of color who face similar backlash.

Tam said people are realizing the incidents of hate they experience are not isolated.

“It’s been happening for years and years and years,” he said. “There’s been more focus with the media attention and so now they’re seeing it on television, and now they’re speaking and sharing their stories, and they realize that they are not alone. 

Old, young, people that have been here a long time, people that were born here, people that are newcomers – they’ve all experienced a level of discrimination, bigotry, and hatred and we all know somebody who’s been violently attacked.”

Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him at helattar@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.

Join the conversation: In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join our Facebook discussion. Message us via our website or staff page. Send us a secure tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.