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Morning Brief: Anti-Asian Hate Crimes, Vaccines For All, And Burbank’s Overly Wild Western-Themed Bar

Downtown Los Angeles rises above a local neighborhood. (Dillon Shook Via Unsplash)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s March 3.

Since the onset of the coronavirus, violent attacks against Asian Americans have increased. Flamed by former President Trump’s repeated racist statements — including his recurring reference to COVID-19 as “the Chinese virus” and “kung flu” — those attacks have, of late, turned deadly, and activists are calling for immediate action.

As LAist contributor Phoenix Tso reports, many advocates, who had already been speaking out for many months, were driven to demand that steps be taken after a fatal assault in the Bay Area, which targeted 84-year-old Vichar Ratanapakdee, an immigrant from Thailand.

"Unfortunately, vulnerable folks do get picked on sometimes for these types of incidents," Manjusha Kulkarni, executive director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, told our newsroom's local news and culture show Take Two. "And that's why urgent action really is needed."

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Southern California has seen an increase in racially charged incidents as well. Over the past year, such attacks include the beating of a 27-year-old Korean American Air Force veteran, ongoing harassment of a Ladera Ranch family, and the beating of a 51-year-old man as he waited for a bus in Rosemead.

The nonprofit organization Stop AAPI Hate has been tracking anti-Asian hate crimes, and received nearly 250 reports in the L.A. area between March and December of last year.

A 2020 report by the L.A. County Human Relations Commission found that anti-Asian crimes were 32% higher in 2019 than in 2018, and that white supremacist crimes were 38% higher in 2019 than in 2018.

Kulkarni pinned the increase, in part, on racist politicians.

“We absolutely are seeing rhetoric coming from a number of our elected officials,” she said, “which is driving up hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.”

Some local activists are taking matters into their own hands; last year, my colleague Josie Huang reported on Hong Lee and Esther Lim, two local women who printed booklets for older Asian Americans that detail what to do if they’re victims of a crime. Some activists in Chinatown are requesting more security cameras, and others are working with law enforcement.

Lim, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Korea, said that the racism she sees today looks a lot like history on repeat.

"When I think about my parents' battle just to be accepted as an American here, it hits my core,” she said. “My parents already went through this before.”

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

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What Else You Need To Know Today

  • Grief is never easy, but grieving for a loved one during a pandemic is even harder.
  • February’s Black History Month is over, but our commitment to seeking out, highlighting and amplifying Black voices isn’t.
  • A new study looks at how low pay and cramped living conditions have heightened the risk of catching and transmitting COVID-19 for fast food workers.
  • Long Beach accidentally sent emails inviting people to get the coronavirus vaccine — even though they weren't eligible.
  • A deadly crash in Imperial County involving an overloaded SUV and a semi truck has left at least 15 people dead.
  • California's two statewide teachers unions praised a deal that would bring the youngest elementary students back to campuses as early as April 1, but L.A.’s teachers’ union disagrees.
  • Campus survivors' advocates are helping students at local colleges who are suffering from domestic or relationship violence.
  • President Biden says there will be enough vaccines for the nation’s adult population by the end of May.

Before You Go … Burbank’s Wild West-Themed Bar Is Just A Little Too Wild

The entrance toTinhorn Flats, an Old West-themed bar in Burbank. (Elina Shatkin/LAist)

Burbank has had it with Tinhorn Flats, the Old West-themed bar and restaurant that keeps defying pandemic safety protocols. On Monday, city officials filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court asking a judge to let them cut off the restaurant's electricity and padlock its doors so they can enforce a closure order, which was instituted to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Tinhorn Flats' owners have previously railed against face mask mandates (although they eventually agreed to enforce them) and vowed to defy the ban on in-person dining at restaurants.

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The news cycle moves fast. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft, and check for updates on these stories and more. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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