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National JACL Statement

JACL Saddened by Recent Attack on Family in Portland

Sarah Baker, VP Public Affairs

Matthew Weisbly, Education & Communications Coordinator

On Saturday, July 2, a family was assaulted in Portland, Oregon while bicycling in a well-traveled and public space. The assailant verbally and physically attacked the family because they were Japanese; the man has been arrested and faces two counts of bias crimes in the first and second degrees. He was apprehended due to the intervention and assistance of numerous bystanders. The family members who were attacked, the father and his 5-year-old daughter, escaped serious injury, despite reports of the assailant striking the girl multiple times in the head.

This attack is especially distressing coming a few weeks after the commemoration of the murder of Vincent Chin 40 years ago. Vincent Chin, a Chinese American, was murdered because his killers mistakenly believed he was Japanese and blamed him for the ongoing trade wars and difficulties in the American auto industry which led to their unemployment. As we have seen all too often in the past two years with the rising reports of anti-Asian hate incidents, the underlying racism that led to the murder of Vincent Chin continues to persist to this day.

One aspect of this incident that does distinguish itself is the intervention from the bystanders. JACL applauds the individuals who stepped forward to stop the violence and ensure the perpetrator was apprehended by the police. These people are the heroes who made sure that the violence did not escalate

“We are grateful for the swift intervention of the people in the vicinity of the attack who represent the true hearts of Portland residents,” stated Portland JACL chapter president, Jeff Matsumoto. “Like the vast majority of Portland residents, we are appalled at the racist attack that occurred as yet another example of anti-Asian bias and hatred which we call upon all our fellow citizens to condemn and intervene when they see it happening.”

Oregon Rises Above Hate Response to July 2 Anti-Asian Attack

Oregon Rises Above Hate Response to July 2 Anti-Asian Attack

Our Asian American Native Hawai’ian Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community, in solidarity with other communities of color, is horrified and angered by the racially-motivated violent attack against a Japanese family, including a 5 year old child, while they were enjoying Portland. Without the intervention of bystanders, there could have been a more horrifying outcome. This unprovoked attack continues a pattern of rising hostility and overt acts of violence against AANHPI, and it must be stopped.

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National JACL Statement

JACL Statement in Wake of Tragedy in Buffalo

JACL Calls For National Action to Combat White Supremacy in the Wake of Recent Tragedy in Buffalo

Sarah Baker, VP Public Affairs, sbaker@jacl.org

Matthew Weisbly, Education & Communications Coordinator, mweisbly@jacl.org

On May 14 in Buffalo, New York, 10 people were murdered in a supermarket in an attack perpetrated by a self-identified white supremacist. This is sadly yet another attack that has affected communities of color in the last several years; a grim reflection of the history of our nation, in which white supremacy has been an ever-present and violent institution. 

In a manifesto that the attacker posted online prior to the shooting were references to the “Great Replacement,” a conspiracy theory built upon an anti-Semitic lie that states that Jews are intentionally replacing white Americans with minority populations. This dangerous ideology has been cited by other mass shooters in the past and was one of the major factors behind the anti-Semitic massacre in Pittsburgh in 2018, and the attack on an immigrant community in El Paso in 2019. The “Great Replacement” was also responsible for many of the racist views that led to the scapegoating of Japanese Americans in the lead-up to their incarceration during WWII. 

Also incredibly troubling is the role that the internet played in radicalizing the murderer, providing the propaganda of misinformation and hatred as well as the forum to broadcast his despicable acts in real-time. Virtual content platforms must be more proactive to stop the spread of hate and extremism. The shooter did not act independently, but with the support of a broad network of encouragement, that has been allowed to flourish online. 

White supremacy continues to be a dangerous terrorist movement that threatens our country and our safety. It must be addressed at all levels from individuals to institutions, to politicians, in order to continue to protect the communities which are the most impacted by these atrocities. Attacks like these are sudden, violent, and intended to evoke fear and helplessness within us, but we refuse to be intimidated. 

Prosecution alone will not stop this hatred, it must be at all levels within our county, both public and private. Efforts must be directed towards prevention of the spread of misinformation, education on racial issues, and proper training for response and reporting groups, and should include language access to ensure minority communities are able to effectively provide crucial information to the institutions that are sworn to protect them. We will continue to fight against these threats and demand swift and responsible action from our elected officials, law enforcement professionals, and corporate leaders to hold those who spread this rhetoric accountable and to eventually stop hate crimes.

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National JACL Statement

JACL Supports Women’s Reproductive Freedom

On Monday, May 2nd, 2022, an initial draft of a supreme court opinion authored by Justice Alito that would strike down the Roe vs Wade decision was leaked to the public. It is important to note that the right to choose is currently still protected by law and that this is a draft decision from the court. The decision, however, if made official, would overturn the right to choose, protected by the 14th amendment of the constitution under the Roe vs Wade ruling for over 49 years. Erosion of the 14th amendment could then lead to the loss of constitutionally protected rights of individuals including the rights of people of color and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Justice Alito’s draft opinion states, “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start.” This is language similarly used to describe the Korematsu case in an opinion by Justice Kavanaugh in the 2020 case Ramos vs Louisiana and echos a similar repudiation of the Korematsu decision in the Muslim Travel Ban case decided in 2018. Unfortunately, despite the court’s declaration that the original Korematsu verdict was wrong, it has continued to demonstrate its willingness to declare egregious wrongs and continues to trample on individual rights as it did with the Muslim ban. It is critical, therefore, that the court reassess its problematic past decisions to ensure that future declarations are spared from equally harmful abridgments of personal freedom.

This decision comes after many other state-level attacks on the right to choose such as the Texas law that went into effect in September of last year that placed a cash bounty on the heads of doctors that performed abortions after six weeks, which is often before a person even realizes that they are pregnant. Lawmakers in Missouri considered legislation that would allow individuals to sue anyone who aided a person in crossing state lines for an abortion.

The JACL once again reaffirms its commitment to reproductive freedom and the right to choose whether and when to become a parent. JACL highlights that it was 30 years ago that our National Council officially adopted a resolution, titled Family Choice, at the 1992 convention supporting a person’s right “to choose and determine the course of their lives.” JACL also calls on our elected representatives to pass legislation protecting the right to choose immediately instead of holding out on fundamental rights in order to have more talking points during upcoming election campaigns.

JACL executive director David Inoue states, “The language of this draft decision from the court is especially troubling for the implications it will have on the potential infringement of other individual rights. We cannot be a United States of America if not everyone in our nation holds the same rights. History has demonstrated that we cannot leave fundamental human rights to the jurisdiction of the states.”

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National JACL

JACL Condemns Proposed Early End to Counting for the Census

For Immediate Release

David Inoue, Executive Director dinoue@jacl.org, 202-607-7273

Sarah Baker, VP Public Affairs sbaker@jacl.org

In an announcement made on August 3, the Census Bureau discussed the remaining schedule for the 2020 Census, briefly mentioning that it would cut short its deadline to end census counting. This new deadline brings the end of Census outreach and self-response from October 31, 2020, to September 30, 2020, a month shorter than previously agreed upon by both Congress and the Administration. This is an egregious decision that will leave millions of people uncounted and is a further continuation of the Administration’s attempt to undermine the Census. 

This is only the latest in several past attempts by the Administration to change the way in which the Census will consider counting people. The first attempt was the inclusion of a citizenship question that many feared would be used against undocumented immigrants. After the Supreme Court ruled against the inclusion of such a question, the Administration announced a Presidential Memorandum proposing to exclude undocumented immigrants as people in congressional redistricting. The pandemic has already made it difficult to get an accurate count; these additional attempts to change guidelines and rules makes it even harder. 

With so much at stake for underrepresented communities, and especially as we cope with COVID-19, an accurate Census count is more important than ever. Currently, the response numbers are already the lowest they’ve ever been, with a national average of only 62.9%, compared to 63.5% in 2010. In rural and tribal communities the numbers are even lower, and in large cities with high populations of communities of color, they are lower still. Census enumerators will have more communities and households to visit than before. With in-person outreach being so important to disenfranchised communities, an earlier end date means millions of people who are at risk of never being counted. 

Congress must act to ensure that the 2020 Census reflects an accurate count and portrait of all of America, to ensure that communities that need support receive it over the next decade. This would be important at any given time, but even more so now as we envision our country and its needs with the long-term effects of this pandemic. 

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Blog National JACL

Use of Federal Agents in Portland

JACL joins SEARAC, Other AAPI Orgs in Denouncing Use of Federal Agents in Portland 

July 28, 2020

Japanese American Citizens League Executive Director David Inoue said, “We denounce the mobilization of federal agents in Portland, and now other cities, under the false pretense to address urban violence and crime. Our federal agents should not be used as political props to antagonize cities because the president does not like the mayor’s political party. The president is unnecessarily placing the lives of both the officers and civilians at risk through these incursions worthy of the world’s worst dictatorships.”

Read the full statement >

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Blog National JACL

JACL Statement on H.R. 40

JACL Executive Director, David Inoue, discusses JACL’s support of H.R. 40. H.R. 40 would create a commission to examine the institution of slavery, its legacy, and make recommendations to Congress for reparations, beginning a process of repairing and restoring after centuries of enslavement. You can click below if you want to sign up for emails specifically around JACL and H.R. 40.

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Blog National JACL

Our Outrage for George Floyd’s Murder is Not Enough

June 1, 2020
For Immediate Release
David Inoue, Executive Director, dinoue@jacl.org, 202-607-7273
Sarah Baker, VP Public Affairs, sbaker@jacl.org

It has been one week since George Floyd was lynched by four Minneapolis police officers. The death of George Floyd was preventable, as were the deaths of Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Nina Pop, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, Charleena Lyles, and countless other Black lives who have been lost to systemic racism in the United States.

Officer Derek Chauvin, now being charged with murder and manslaughter, was not alone in George Floyd’s murder. Also complicit were officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and most visibly, Tou Thao, an Asian American officer who, instead of using his authority to stop Chauvin, chose to enable and protect his partner. The JACL denounces the actions of Officer Thao and stands with the Black community in demanding justice for George Floyd and all Black lives.

We must recognize that as violence has erupted from the roots of peaceful protest, it reflects the violence we as a nation have inflicted upon the Black community in our 400-year history as a colonized nation. The genocide began with the colonization of Native American land, to the capture, indentured servitude, and enslavement of African peoples, to Jim Crow, and beyond. We continue to see the legacy of our traumatic history today in the inequities of COVID-19 as Black lives are disproportionately impacted by our failed healthcare system.

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National JACL Uncategorized

Asian People Are Not a Disease

March 20, 2020

For Immediate Release

David Inoue, Executive Director
Sarah Baker, VP Public Affairs


As terms like “Chinese Virus”, “Wuhan Virus”, and “Kung Flu” are increasingly used by the President and other leaders in our country, so do we see the increase of racially-based hate crimes and xenophobia against people of Asian descent. While President Trump has defended his usage of these types of terms, as “not racist at all”, the impacts on our communities tell a different story.

Since as early as January, Asian-owned businesses have been seeing drastic decreases in sales, to the point that some have had to permanently close. New York City has seen a significant rise in violence against Asians, ranging from verbal abuse to physical assault, including a man chasing an Asian woman through the subway station before beating her. In San Francisco a woman was spit on and screamed at by a man on the street, forcing her to flee to a nearby business to escape further attack. These types of incidents are only going to increase as rhetoric that points the finger at the Chinese, and more broadly Asians, continues to escalate.

Asians, especially East Asians, are being labeled as dirty, uncivilized, and animalistic based on cultural generalizations. Senator Cornyn (TX) blamed the Chinese for causing COVID-19 because of the stereotype of a diet of animals exotic to American palates. This type of fear-based inductive reasoning hearkens back to moments in our history like the Chinese Exclusion Act and the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans, when people of Asian descent were targeted by our government through racist policies.

People of Asian descent are no more likely to be carriers of COVID-19 than anyone else: viruses do not see race. The negative and in some cases violent reactions Asians have been experiencing serve as a reminder that we are seen as the perpetual foreigner. It doesn’t matter how many generations our families have been here or if we have just recently immigrated, we are continually labeled as “other”. Had COVID-19 originated in a predominantly white country, the story would have looked a lot different.

This harmful narrative that is being divisively used by our government leaders is creating wide-spread hatred and fear against Asians that will have long lasting impacts on our community. As businesses close and racist attacks continue, we call on our leaders to use language that does not cast blame on Asian people. COVID-19 is a global pandemic that impacts all of us equally. It should be called by its scientific name, not a colloquialism that is harming the Asian people.

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The Japanese American Citizens League is a national organization whose ongoing mission is to secure and maintain the civil rights of Japanese Americans and all others who are victimized by injustice and bigotry. The leaders and members of the JACL also work to promote cultural, educational and social values and preserve the heritage and legacy of the Japanese American community.

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National JACL

Prepared Statement on Expansion of the Muslim Ban

JACL Denounces Expansion of the Muslim Ban

January 31, 2020

For Immediate Release

David Inoue, Executive Director
dinoue@jacl.org, 202-223-1240

Sarah Baker, VP Public Affairs
sbaker@jacl.org


Today’s addition of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania expands he number of countries affected by the Muslim Ban to 13. Similar to the first ban, the people impacted are predominantly Muslim. But these new additions will also affect those fleeing persecution in places such as Myanmar. That these announcements have come in the same week as the three year anniversary of the issuance of the first Muslim Ban and Holocaust Memorial Day is reprehensible. We cannot recall the holocaust without acknowledging our country’s role in refusing holocaust refugees entry. As we now repeat the same mistake through this expanding and misguided policy, it would behoove us to question its validity and effectiveness. Since the implementation of the first Muslim Ban, families have been forced to live apart, college student’s studies have halted, and lives have even been lost because of the restrictions. What has this ban truly done to protect our country?

The ban is a source of particular pain to the Japanese American community. The Supreme Court upheld the ban in its 2018 decision on the basis of national security. This was the exact same rationale used to uphold the World War II incarceration of nearly 120,000 people, many of whom were citizens, because of our national ancestry. The fact that Chief Justice Roberts went out of his way to repudiate the Korematsu decision was ironic in the decision’s reaffirmation of discrimination on the basis of national origin under the guise of national security. In neither case has the government been able to prove an actual security threat.

The expansion of the Muslim Ban continues a pattern of discrimination by this country against communities of color as also seen in the policies of family separation and incarceration, changes to the public charge definition, and most recently, subjecting American citizens of Iranian ancestry to additional screening at the Canadian border. Having experienced the sting of restrictions on Asian immigration in the past, JACL opposes these broad attacks on immigration which stand in direct opposition to the ideals upon which this country was founded that we have yet to truly uphold.

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The Japanese American Citizens League is a national organization whose ongoing mission is to secure and maintain the civil rights of Japanese Americans and all others who are victimized by injustice and bigotry. The leaders and members of the JACL also work to promote cultural, educational and social values and preserve the heritage and legacy of the Japanese American community.


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National JACL Uncategorized

Prepared Statement on Increased Screening of Iranian Americans

JACL Concerned by Reports of Increased Screening Procedures for Iranian American Citizens at the U.S./Canadian Border

January 6, 2020

For Immediate Release

David Inoue, Executive Director
dinoue@jacl.org, 202-223-1240

Sarah Baker, VP Public Affairs
sbaker@jacl.org


Washington, DC – This past weekend, reports of increased screening of Iranian Americans returning to the United States from Canada arose late Saturday night and early Sunday morning. Although individuals were not officially detained or taken into custody according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), it is clear that many U.S. citizens of Iranian descent were subjected to additional screening that non-Iranian citizens were not.

JACL denounces this expansion of screening and further questioning based solely on Iranian heritage. Our country should have learned its lesson when it targeted Japanese Americans because of our ancestry. We must not repeat the mistake of casting suspicion on American citizens simply because of their family’s country of origin. Racist discrimination should not be institutionalized under the guise of national security interests.


CBP seems to be seeking cover by claiming to have not detained or ordered for the detention of any individual, but has made no comment in regards to the extended questioning and screening procedures. We call upon CBP to immediately halt any discriminatory policies singling out travelers solely for their Iranian heritage. If CBP did not issue orders for additional screening, it must conduct an immediate investigation as to why additional screenings were required for Iranian Americans crossing the border.

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The Japanese American Citizens League is a national organization whose ongoing mission is to secure and maintain the civil rights of Japanese Americans and all others who are victimized by injustice and bigotry. The leaders and members of the JACL also work to promote cultural, educational and social values and preserve the heritage and legacy of the Japanese American community.