Congressman Panetta Holds Virtual Roundtable with AAPI Community Members on Anti-Asian Hate Crimes

April 8, 2021
Press Release

Today, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) held a virtual roundtable on the rise of anti-Asian American hate crimes with members of the Central Coast Asian American and Pacific Islander community.  Congressman Panetta discussed his efforts at the federal level to curb anti-Asian hate crimes and listened to the stories and experiences of those in attendance.  Attendees included individuals who were born and forced to stay in internment camps during World War II, community activists focused on rooting out hate locally, professors and educators, and community members who have experienced anti-Asian sentiment.

Watch a full video of the discussion here.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the assault that Asian Americans are enduring,” said Congressman Panetta.  “While Congress is trying to root out such violence and venom through legislation like the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, we must work at all levels to provide answers and solutions to our local communities.  I was proud to be a part of tonight’s discussion which brought our community together to highlight our work to find a vaccine for hate.”

"No matter how participatory in American society AAPI folks are, or how successful we might be, or how decent of a human being we are, we are still targets of hate.  This is the tragedy of racism.  I hope none of us will be silent bystanders as we go forward into the future.  All people must stand up when aggression happens against blacks, browns and Asians so no one need feel alone.  And when Congressman Panetta reaches out to our AAPI communities in these troubling times, this hope comes alive for us,” said Marina City Councilmember Kathy Biala.

“Discussions like this are the way we get to the root of prejudice.  Ideally, we would not speak of Black, White, Yellow, Brown, Buddhist, Christian or Jewish because labels in themselves are the basis of prejudice. Since that is too idealistic let's pray that we can instill in our children, relatives, friends and associates that if we cannot justify preying on children, the elderly, and those less capable of caring for themselves, we cannot stand by while any groups are attacked by another,” said Rick Hattori.

“Tonight’s event was great.  So grateful for Congressman Panetta bringing us together.  I believe he’s started the beginning of many more discussions.  When there is an issue, it needs to be made aware of and discussed.  Tonight’s roundtable was a perfect platform.  These conversations must be continued,” said Ellie Hattori.

“It’s very important for our legislators to hear the diverse opinions and perspectives of the affected communities.  Congressman Panetta is to be congratulated for reaching out to the leadership in the local Asian American community to get their personal reactions to the rising incidences of hate and to hear their view of solutions,” said Larry Oda.

“Racism is not a modern problem, it has plagued humankind for thousands of years.  How do we overcome racism?  As the Pastor of the El Estero Presbyterian Church in Monterey, a predominantly Japanese/Asian American Congregation, I see the that first step to overcoming racism is to identify the cause.  That root cause is a heart that is sinful. Hatred is a sin.  Anger is a sin.  Racism is a sin!  If you pull a weed without pulling the roots, it will quickly grow back again.  In Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, he appealed to God and the Bible several times.  The only one who can change the heart is God.  We must seek his strength and power to fulfill the Great Commandment of Jesus, “Love One Another,” said Pastor Ted Esaki, El Estero Presbyterian Church in Monterey.

Congressman Panetta was joined by George Ow; Marina Councilmember Kathy Biala; Richard Zhang, Monterey Peninsula Chinese American Association; Ellie Hattori, Obon Festival Chair; Jeff Uchida, Japanese American Citizens League; Larry Oda, former Japanese Americans Citizen League National President; Linda and Alan Kadani; Greg Nakanishi; Ann and Douglas Tsuchiya; UC Santa Cruz Professor Alice Yang; David Kong, Greenfield Union School Board; Ted Esaki; Dr. Chris Hasegawa; Wendall and Kathryn Nuss; Roy Recio, Tobera Project; and Mars Rocamora, Filipino Community Of Salinas Valley President.