Asian Americans facing renewed discrimination, according to Utah lawmaker

Mar 11, 2021, 10:29 AM | Updated: 10:36 am
asian americans face discrimination in utah, according to representative karen kwan, pictured here...
FILE: Representative Karen Kwan and Representative Jefferson Moss speak during a committee hearing at the Utah State Capitol. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A Utah lawmaker says Asian Americans continue to face racially-motivated harassment stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Utah lawmaker says Asian Americans face harassment 

State Rep. Karen Kwan, D-Murray, believes the fast growing Asian American communities in Utah already faces renewed discrimination.

She tells the Deseret News that although police have not confirmed any racially-motivated violence, she has heard plenty of troubling anecdotes and stories about harassment since COVID-19 reached the state.

“It is very much an issue of concern, and our communities are on alert to combat it,” she said.

Even if coincidental, the numbers appear to support a case that reported discrimination is leading to increased violence.

Utah Department of Public Safety data shows violent crimes rose slightly against Asian and Pacific Islanders in Utah in 2020. Specifically, the reports increased from 802 in 2019 to 846 in 2020.

Salt Lake DA calls for better education

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill Utah needs change. He calls for greater education about the state’s strengthened hate crimes law that passed in 2019.

“A lot of the stuff that goes on is borne by these communities and never really reported,” he said. “Someone comes into your shop and makes a snide remark at you while you’re running the shop, but you kind of brush that off as the price of doing business.”

Gill immigrated to the U.S. with his family as a child. He became the nation’s only Indian-born district attorney when he took office 10 years ago.

“As an immigrant, I could tell you I’ve endured discrimination and been subjected to racist and discriminatory statements, but so would every other immigrant who’s similarly situated,” Gill said.

Kwan and others say they’re paying close attention to last week’s shooting death in Ogden of 65-year-old Satnam Singh, who was originally from India. 

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Asian Americans facing renewed discrimination, according to Utah lawmaker