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Eugeneans Respond To Anti-Asian Violence And Bigotry

Brian Bull

Local reactions to anti-Asian violence in the headlines includes the Eugene Police Department and community activists.

In a release, the EPD says it’s saddened by the murders of six Asian women in Atlanta, as well as bigotry fueled by anti-Asian rhetoric. They urge people to report hate crimes and other bias activity to the city, and are currently flying their flags at half-staff.  

"If anyone does need to report a bias crime that does not have immediate life and safety or property concerns, we would ask them to please call us at (541)682-5111," adds the EPD.  Othewise, they say if someone's life or safety is at risk, to call 911. 

Another local voice is that of Nikolaj Byrdman, who founded the Lane East Asian Network (LEAN) last December.

“Any East Asian individual living in Oregon, or moves to Oregon, knows that that is a resource for them, and that when they join our organization, they feel truly safe.”

Credit James Eades / Unsplash

Byrdman said LEAN will serve as a resource for the East Asian community, which has long contended with prejudice across Oregon.  This not only includes recurring references to COVID-19 as the “Wuhan flu”, but also the mass incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Byrdman said ahead of this week’s shooting, racist hostility was increasingly being directed at them and other Asians. References to “kung flu” and “China virus” by then-President Donald Trumponly made the COVID-19 pandemic worse.

”Somebody actually hit me with their car. It could’ve been because I was wearing a “Black Lives Matter” mask,” recalled Byrdman.   “But I was holding some food and he hit me hard enough that all my food just burst, and it was all over my clothing and stuff, and he tried to drive away.

“I don’t think it’s very much of a coincidence that just a week later, my friend who is East Asian, also got hit by a car.”

Byrdman said LEAN was founded to offset Oregon’s legacy of white supremacy, by educating people about the history and culture of the state’s Asian community.

Copyright 2021, KLCC. 

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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