Bar Associations

Asian-American bar officials acknowledge fears amid hate crime reports; more resources offered

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Members of Asian-American bar associations are acknowledging some fears as their groups raise concerns about hate crimes and troubling rhetoric.

Among those reporting disturbing incidents is Cyndie Chang, managing partner of the Los Angeles office of Duane Morris and president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the National Law Journal (sub. req.) reports.

Chang tells the National Law Journal she was standing on the steps of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., in May when an older white man told her to go back to her country. Chang’s ancestors came to the United States from China five generations ago. She says the comment shocked her and she didn’t respond.

Chang says she has heard similar stories from others who have faced negative comments and threats of violence. She admits to being “somewhat anxious and fearful” and says she canceled a visit to relatives because she didn’t want to drive alone.

Chang said the NAPABA is “monitoring the situation carefully” and putting together a hate crime tool kit for its members with information on how to identify hate crimes and where to report them.

The South Asian Bar Association of North America is also providing a resources list for victims of hate crimes, according to this press release. The group is also joining with its chapters to provide a way for members to provide pro bono support to sister organizations.

SABA says there has been “a dramatic increase in incidents of hate and violence” against South Asians since election day, though President-elect Donald Trump has repudiated hateful actions. The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported 701 “hateful incidents of harassment” in the week after the presidential election.

SABA sees a link between the incidents and election rhetoric. “As representatives of the South Asian community in America, we must acknowledge that the 2016 presidential election campaign was filled with troublesome and xenophobic rhetoric towards minority communities, especially Muslim Americans,” the group says. “It is because of this rhetoric that members of the South Asian community, amongst many others, enter this new administration with some trepidation and fear.”

The National Association of Muslim Lawyers is also reacting. Its leaders are planning a strategy retreat in January to discuss issues the group expects to encounter in the Trump administration, the National Law Journal (sub. req.) reports. Other Muslim lawyer groups are also discussing plans. The Capital Area Muslim Bar Association intends to publish op-eds expressing the group’s views, according to board member Fatema Merchant.

“It’s time to stop moping around and start acting,” Merchant told the National Law Journal.

See also: “Told to go back to his own country, BigLaw partner says lawyers need to stand up and be heard”

Updated on Nov. 29 with information from the National Law Journal.

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