After Hate Incident, Portland, OR Community Rallies For Safe Neighborhoods
After a reported hate incident against a Vietnamese-American student, a Portland, OR community is standing together for safe and inclusive neighborhoods.
On the morning of August 2, 2009, 22-year-old Portland State University student Bao Vuong reported that he was verbally assaulted by four white males in Portland’s Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood. Vuong said the young men shouted racial slurs at him, pelted his car with food, and punched the door of his vehicle while he was stopped at a stop light. Though Vuong gave descriptions of the four men to the police, no arrests have been made. [KATU Story]
Portland allies and supporters were quick to respond. Local residents, business owners, and civic and faith leaders worked with the Portland Human Rights Commission and other local agencies to organize a neighborhood speak-out and rally for a safe community.
“The conversation [about the incident] ranged from ‘let’s get mad’ to ‘let’s not deal with it, it’s too stressful,’” Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons of the Asian Family Center told the Willamette Week. “And we settled on this event to talk about – and focus on – what we can do.”
On August 7, over 125 community members, including representatives from Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, Portland Human Rights Commission Chair Jeff Cogen, the City Office of Neighborhood Associations, Central Northeast Neighbors, and local civic and faith leaders gathered at Beaumont Middle School near where the incident took place.
At the rally, residents and leaders spoke out against the crime, learned about hate crime prevention, and discussed how to strengthen ties between diverse communities and groups.
Al Ellis, Chair of the Beaumont Wilshire Neighborhood Association, wrote in a letter to the community: “Regardless of where the attackers came from, we are united in doing whatever can be done to prevent this kind of hateful, senseless violence from reoccurring in any and all neighborhoods.”
Please leave a comment of support and encouragement for Bao Vuong, and for the people of Portland who are working to make their neighborhoods inclusive and safe for all people.