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WA Workers Speak Out Against Violence Toward Asian Americans

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Violence against Asian Americans has been increasing over the past year. (wachiwit/Adobe Stock)
Violence against Asian Americans has been increasing over the past year. (wachiwit/Adobe Stock)
 By Eric Tegethoff - Producer, Contact
March 26, 2021

SEATTLE - In the wake of last week's killings in Atlanta, public service workers in Washington state are speaking out against hate aimed at Asian Americans.

The Washington Federation of State Employees is calling on leaders to act to curb violence against Asian Americans.

Quan Tran is president of Interpreters United. He said attacks on Asian Americans have been on the rise for the past year during the pandemic, but the racism goes back farther.

"This situation last week that killed eight people," said Tran, "that's basically the climax of everything that's going on in the last 150 years."

Tran pointed to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which prohibited Chinese immigration, and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War Two.

Seattle also has been the site of anti-Asian sentiment. In 1886, hundreds of Chinese workers were driven from the city.

Qiulan Yang is a custodian at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, and said she hasn't personally dealt with harassment, but is afraid she will one day.

She spoke through a translator, Jenny Ho with the Washington Federation of State Employees.

"She lives in fear, basically," she said. "She says she has to take the train to work, to Chinatown, and she has to constantly watch her back and especially when people start getting too close to her. She's quite fearful."

Tran said while the shooting in Atlanta was unacceptable, it's been hopeful to see rallies across the country calling for a stop to violence against Asian Americans.

"We told ourselves that we are victim no more so we start speaking up against it," said Tran, "That is a very encouraging sign for us. We get out of our shell in order to protect us all."

Disclosure: Washington Federation of State Employees - AFSCME Council 28 contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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