SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- San Diego city leaders came together Thursday afternoon for a public safety symposium to address the national increase in violent incidents toward the Asian-American Pacific Islander community.
They announced that they are taking a proactive approach to combat hate crimes and incidents.
"There is no room for hate in the City Of San Diego," Mayor Todd Gloria said. "Our Asian Pacific Islander community is hurting. Whether we like it or not, it is happening, and what we recognize is that too much of it goes unreported."
A hate crime is a crime done with a bias against a race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or disability. San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan said a hate incident, although not a crime, can be just as hurtful.
"It may be hateful, hurtful, and disgusting, but it is something that does not amount to a crime," Stephan said. "It is protected under the first amendment right."
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Stop AAPI Hate Reporting Center tallied nearly 3,800 hate incidents across the United States.
In 2017, 2018, and 2019, there were no Asian-targeted hate crimes reported in San Diego. Since the pandemic, Stephan's office has prosecuted three felony hate crimes and received 120 tips on its tip line.
"Although we aren't seeing many incidents, my concern is is that they're not being reported," San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said. "My goal today is to make certain that everybody here is comfortable coming forward."
In response, SDPD officers started doing safety walks in predominantly AAPI communities, including Little Saigon, Midcity, and the Convoy District. Next week, they are scheduled to walk in Linda Vista and Mira Mesa. The goal, they said, is to prevent hate incidents from ever becoming hate crimes.
"No matter how big or small, we want to know," Chief Nisleit said.
At the symposium, officers said that 15 businesses in the Convoy District were broken into in the last six months. They shared tips for business owners and residents on how to stay safe.
- Remove cash from the store before closing
- Remove signs from windows
- Install cameras, an alarm, or silent alarm system
- Apply laminate on windows to prevent window break-ins
- Put latch guard on doors
- Keep lights on the outside
- Remove rocks and bricks near the entrance
- Alter deposit times and bags
Personal Safety Tips:
- Don't open the door
- Don't be silent
- Place a 'No Soliciting' sign
- Ask repair people for identification
- Don't display jewelry
- Don't carry extra valuables
- Avoid dangerous locations and people
- Keep your distance when asked for directions
- If you become a victim, act quickly
The department is also working on creating a special QR code for AAPI businesses and places of worship to display that will give people quick access to community and police resources.