Victim of anti-Asian harassment in Fresno reflects on experience as hate crimes rise statewide

Brittany Jacob Image
Saturday, January 21, 2023
Victim of anti-Asian harassment reflects on experience as hate crimes rise statewide
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A little over a year ago, a Fresno man was at a local restaurant with his wife eating breakfast when they became targets of racial harassment.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Hate crimes are on the rise in California. Now, state leaders are taking action to provide critical resources to vulnerable victims while working to prevent more people from becoming targets.

From 2020 to 2021, California experienced nearly a 33% overall increase in reported hate crimes, and a 177% increase in reported anti-Asian hate crimes.

One Fresno man is sharing his experience, hoping to inspire change. Brandon Vang is a Sanger Unified School Board Trustee.

A little over a year ago, he was at a local restaurant with his wife eating breakfast when they became targets of racial harassment.

It started when someone loudly asked, "How do you speak Chinese?"

"One of the group members answered, 'ching, chong, chang.' At this moment is when I realized they were directing this conversation towards my wife and I," Vang said. "It's unfortunate. But the reality is it's there and for the last couple of years the anti-Asian hate fervor has escalated."

Vang said they were shocked and targeted, mainly because they were the only Asians in the restaurant. Vang reported the incident to restaurant management, to no avail.

Now, he wants to ensure this does not happen to anyone else of any race. "I truly believe that racism against one individual is racism against all individuals," Vang said.

On Friday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the launch of a new community-led anti-Asian hate awareness campaign. Bonta is first Filipino American to be elected to the office of Attorney General. His office has launched a racial justice bureau, created a hate crime coordinator position, and offered other resources from the state.

"I'm happy our attorney general Rob Bonta realized that at the very least, he needs to make it easy or easier for victims of racism to report the crime," Vang said.

First-year Fresno State student Brenda Manyvanh is also taking action.

She works as the Asian-American Pacific Islander student coordinator for the Cross-Cultural Gender Center, helping to create safe spaces for students on campus.

"It's a never-ending fight because there's no perfect solution, but the resources and more help we have, it's always necessary," Manyvanh said.

The attorney general says there's no single approach to addressing hate, Bonta said increasing education and awareness is a critical part of the solution.

More information, guidance, and resources from the California Department of Justice can be found by clicking here.