Asian American groups slam Seattle anti-Asian hate budget cut in new proposal
Asian American organizations are calling out the 2023 budget introduced by Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, which proposed to nearly halve the city’s anti-Asian hate fund.
The mayor’s office, which is the first Asian American to hold the position, defended Proposal saying it also included a number of funding cuts to the Department of Social Services and other city departments in response to the $140 million revenue shortfall Seattle faces.
Kyle Kinoshita, co-chairman of the Seattle chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), the oldest Asian American civil and human rights organization, said the JACL strongly opposes budget cuts.
“It ties into a long history over the past century and a half of open anti-Asian violence, from the anti-China riots in the late 1800s, to the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II and to anti-Asian hate crimes in the 1980s. linked to American economic competition with Japan,” Kinoshita said. “We support the continuation of resources against hate crimes and believe that, if anything, they should be increased to eradicate the causes of violence against all who are the target of hate.”
Jamie Housen, communications director for the mayor’s office, said the proposal still addresses concerns raised directly by members of the AAPI community.
“As Seattle’s first Asian mayor, Mayor Harrell has made it a priority to support the city’s AAPI communities – elevating a ‘One Seattle’ vision to unite Seattle around shared values of inclusion and solidarity. ‘opportunities for all,’ Jamie Housen told NBC News in an email.
Housen said the mayor’s office recommends addressing immediate public safety issues “through a holistic approach.” He said the proposal includes $7 million for recruitment, hiring and retention in the Seattle Police Department and Seattle Fire Department; add $5.8 million to community safety solutions, anti-gun violence resources and services; and approximately $1 million in victim services.
Manjusha Kulkarni, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, said cities cutting off funding for Asian American communities were concerning.
“[Our communities] have been experiencing, since the start of the pandemic, anti-Asian hatred, which comes in many different forms. These are not just crimes. It’s also verbal harassment, it’s civil rights abuses, it’s bullying in schools,” she said. “We are concerned when we hear that elected officials are cutting funding because we know investing in our communities works.”
The budget adopted in Seattle for 2022 included $400,000 spent to fight hate crimes and bias only disproportionately affected the AAPI community by implementing two programs: funding for community organizations, including advocacy, counselling, mental health support, trauma response and care; and “innovation fund for community organizations”, according to budget.
Harrell, who is multiracial, make history in 2021 after being the first Asian and second Black American to be elected mayor of Seattle. “This proposal aims to meet the urgent needs of our communities and provide the essential services residents have come to expect as we build #OneSeattle,” he tweeted after announcing its budget proposal.
Anti-Asian hate crimes have increased exponentially since the start of the pandemic, 339% increase in 2021, according to data from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.
“Anti-Asian hate crimes, which have increased over the past two years due to the COVID pandemic, continue and appear in national news. The rapid increase in such crimes triggered by the events of the past two years demonstrates that anti-Asian bias still runs deep in American society,” Kinoshita said.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com