Asian-Americans in Seattle face racist stigma, vandalism

SEATTLE -- Seattle’s International District is reeling from the damage left behind by mobs bent on destruction.

Police recorded dozens of businesses hit with vandalism and damage during this weekend’s unrest.

All of this while Asian-Americans in our city are reporting an increase in hate crimes – some worry it's connected to misplaced anger over coronavirus.

“I’m kind of speechless,” said Eric Chan, owner of Jade Garden.

Chan says his family has operated the restaurant for nearly 20 years.

Today the restaurant is covered with plywood as are other shops in the neighborhood.

He says the problems began well before protests and riots embroiled communities across America.

“Sometimes we would get hate calls,” he said.  “We’d get people asking if we sell exotic cuisine.”

This past weekend rioters broke in again and grabbed what they could.

Seattle police say more than 90 businesses in the neighborhood were targeted, but the struggles for Asian-Americans in Seattle didn’t start here.

“It just became a little alarming, and we’ve seen an increase in hate crimes,” said Sarah Baker, a board member with the Japanese American Citizens League.

Baker says what other civil rights organizations have decried: discrimination against Asian-Americans has been on the upswing since coronavirus swept the country.

Just last week Seattle police arrested a man accused of harassing Asian-Americans in Ballard, allegedly furious with those potentially connected to the pandemic.

Businesses in the International District are already suffering from the economic downturn and racist connections to coronavirus.

After rioters left widespread damage in the heart of Seattle’s Asian community, Chan says he’s now short staffed and struggling to continue serving his neighbors all while racial minorities continue to face a stigma connected a virus that knows no color.