WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 5, 2015) — OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, says it deplores the economic and social injustice underlying the distrust and frustration in Baltimore, Maryland.
Last Sunday, Freddie Gray, a Black man, died of spinal cord injuries sustained during his arrest. Protests erupted in Baltimore shortly after his death and have continued throughout the week. In a press release on Tuesday, OCA said it was disappointed by recent attempts, including some in media, to sensationalize tension between the Asian American and Black communities in Baltimore.
“We offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Freddie Gray,” said Michael W. Kwan, OCA National President. “The tragic loss of this young man is unacceptable and compounds deep seated distrust between government and the community. These protests are symptomatic of long-term, pervasive economic and social injustice. Despite years of neglect and in the absence of any hope of relief, people are left with no choice but to express their frustration through civil disobedience. We stand in solidarity with the people of Baltimore in their peaceful protests.”
Recently, a few media outlets reported that tensions had risen between the Black and Asian American community in light of damage caused to some Asian American businesses in the area during the protests.
“This type of reporting is dangerous because it sensationalizes violence and racial tension without addressing the root causes of these problems,” continued Kwan. “The damage done to Asian American businesses is shocking. However, it only makes the problem worse when we use a narrative where racial tension is the cause of these acts. The true cause of violence is repressed frustration over systemic poverty, a frustration that affects both the Asian American and Black communities in Baltimore. Until we recognize that racial tension is a symptom of deeper problems and not itself the cause of violence, we will continue to point the finger at one another and accomplish nothing towards the ends of a more equitable and just society.”
“Whether one is a police officer or community member, White, Black, Latino or Asian, they deserve justice, to be treated fairly and equally under the law,” concluded Kwan. “To that end, OCA has mobilized its local chapters to reach out to community members to build trust and find constructive community-based solutions to the issues confronting our neighborhoods. Though Baltimore’s communities have suffered through much in the past two weeks, we are confident that the people will come together to repair the community. We will continue to monitor events in Baltimore to ensure that the Constitutional rights of all are protected.”
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates is a national organization of community advocates dedicated to improving the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs).