The Santa Ana Police Department will now post monthly reports of hate crimes on their website after the city council unanimously voted Tuesday to make the data accessible.
Councilman Phil Bacerra said that as hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased across the country, it’s crucial that the city officials understand how many are occurring in Santa Ana to address the problem.
“We don’t get that data as instantaneously as we should or as we would like,” Bacerra said. “We’re hopeful that this is a very easy accommodation and that is to take hate crimes that have been reported to our Police Department and have that data posted.”
Councilwoman Thai Viet Phan, the first Vietnamese American woman elected to the council, said hate crimes against Asian Americans have gone up 150% across the country but that she doesn’t know how many have occurred in the city.
The council also unanimously voted to publicly condemn Anti-Asian hate.
Other Orange County cities have also issued statements denouncing anti-Asian racism including Westminster, Huntington Beach and Cypress.
Santa Ana is estimated to be home to more than 25,000 Vietnamese Americans, according to U.S. Census numbers.
Phan shared her own experiences with racism and xenophobia in Santa Ana during highschool when the lockers were tagged with an Anti-Asian slur.
“We can’t think that xenophobia is happening in other cities or South County or in other states. It’s happening here at home and we really have to reconcile that,” Phan said.
Phan said she didn’t know until recently that the first Chinatown in Orange County was in Santa Ana. She also said Chinatown didn’t disappear, but was burned down in 1906 after xenophobic rumors about a case of leprosy there.
“Instead of treating that issue, the city council at the time voted to burn it down. The entire Chinatown. Apparently, it’s the only example of local government-sponsored vandalism in the history of the state,” Phan said. “That’s truly egregious and the fact that many of us don’t know that is also egregious.”
Mayor Vicente Sarmiento also discussed the city’s history with Anti-Asian racism, and said Little Saigon, a cultural district for the Vietnamese community, was born in Santa Ana, but moved west to Garden Grove and Westminster.
“We have to figure out why the community is moving away from us instead of becoming more embedded in Santa Ana,” Sarmiento said. “So that is something that is very tangible. That’s something that is quantifiable that I think we can tackle but we do have to right this horrible legacy that this city has.”
Sarmiento also said that the Latino community needs to increase its cultural understanding of other minorities. He said that hostility doesn’t always come from the white community but sometimes people of color.
“We need to be able to sit down and realize — obviously, to many of us — we have a lot more in common than we have differences. But sometimes that doesn’t permutate everyone’s reality. I think it’s these moments we can do that and set examples,” Sarmiento said.