SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego is now part of the nationwide "Yellow Whistle Campaign."
The program was first launched in New York City in April in response to a growing number of reported incidents involving violence and crime against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Mira Mesa is home to San Diego's largest Filipino community. Local leaders kicked off the local campaign Monday at the Broken Yolk Cafe on Mira Mesa Boulevard.
"The anti-Asian Pacific Islander hate has increased in a way that we need to blow a whistle to debunk the myth that Asian Pacific Americans are silent," said Dr. Lilly Cheng.
Cheng is the chairperson for the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association. She also runs SDSU's Chinese Cultural Center. The non-profit and the Mira Mesa Town Council are working together to launch the nationwide effort in San Diego.
The yellow whistles were passed out to customers during the lunch hour at the Broken Yolk Cafe.
"The color yellow is the color of the Chinese people. The Chinese people are called the descendants of the yellow emperor, so the color yellow is very regal," said Cheng.
Customers were supportive of the effort.
"I think we definitely need to show more awareness because of all the circumstances that are going on. I think it's really sad," said Atziri Cardenas.
Councilmember Chris Cate said the whistles are just another tool for all residents, especially the elderly, to help alert others of violence.
He said the goal is to prevent hate incidents from becoming hate crimes.
Some people have questioned on social media using the color yellow, saying it may be seen as racist or insensitive, but Cate said it should be seen as a color of solidarity.
"I think we're trying to turn that on its head and show that the beauty of the color yellow and what it represents and what it means for all Asian American Americans," said Cate.
Monday, two-hundred-fifty whistles were passed out at senior centers and schools to get things started. More will be distributed as they become available.
More information on the nationwide program can be found here.