Sunday, December 17, 2006

Hai Vo Hate Crime, Michigan

On November 11, 2006, five days after Michigan passed Proposal 2 to ban affirmative action (presumably because it wasn't needed anymore because there was no more racism in Michigan anymore), Hai Vo, a 34-year old Vietnamese American man, was severely beaten outside a downtown night spot in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and remains in a coma. A fight reportedly started inside The B.O.B. (Big Old Building) when some white men suggested that Asian women could be bought with as little as $5. Vo’s sister described to WZZM13 News how the white men were waving fistfuls of dollar bills at the women in their group. The fight then moved outside. Mr. Vo was not involved in the fight, but was waiting in front of the building for his sister to bring the car when he was struck from behind and severely beaten.

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights, The Advisory Council of Asian Pacific Affairs, the Organization of Asian Professionals, The Michigan Asian Pacific American Bar Association, American Citizens for Justice, St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church, and others are all working to help the Vo family and to find out what happened. An Asian Victim's Relief Fund has been set up and two big fundraisers have been planned to help the family pay Mr. Vo’s medical bills (he had no medical insurance).

Harold Core, department spokeman for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, noted in the Grand Rapids Press that the alleged hate crime occurred five days after the election. "After Proposal 2 passes on the idea that people aren't targeted or mistreated because of their race, it's kinda sad that after the state believed there was no need for Proposal 2 (sic—affirmative action), we have this," Core said.

The Michigan Asian Pacific American Bar Association, American Citizens for Justice, and Michigan's Council of Asian Pacific Americans (CAPA) are also watching the investigations of other possible anti-Asian hate crimes. Linda V. Parker, Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR), noted in a statement, “I am personally alarmed at the recent spike in particularly egregious alleged hate crimes in Michigan.” Asian Americans, African Americans, Arab Americans have all been targeted for violent hate crimes after passage of Proposal 2.

Next year, 2007, marks the 25th anniversary of Vincent Chin's death.