Neighbors Stand Guard to Protect Asian-American Family After 'Deeply Upsetting' Racist Attacks
A California community is banding together to protect one of their own after a local Asian-American family fell victim to a series of hateful attacks.
Haijun Si moved his family to the United States from China four years ago, and in September, settled into a home in Ladera Ranch, an upscale Orange County neighborhood, the Los Angeles Times reported.
But almost immediately, Si, his wife, and their two young children became the targets of harassment from a group of about 20 neighborhood teenagers, who repeatedly rang the doorbell late at night, threw rocks at the home and hurled racial slurs.
"My kids are scared. I'm very annoyed," Si, 48, told the Times. "At night, my wife and I could not sleep for more than three or four hours. Please, parents, tell your kids don't do that again."
Si made efforts to keep the vandals at bay, installing a new fence and cameras, and even got the local sheriff's department to launch an investigation.
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But it wasn't until neighbors stepped in that the late-night attacks began to ease, the teenagers deterred by groups standing watch in the driveway and from their cars.
"I did not understand the extent of the harassment and how often it was occurring, at first. I was immediately outraged and wanted to help," neighbor Layla Parks told the Times.
When Parks learned of the Si family's plight, she shared footage of one of the attacks to a local Facebook group, and soon, people were volunteering to stand watch in an effort that began on Feb. 13, according to the Washington Post.
"This harassment started almost immediately upon them moving here, and the fact that it was so clearly tied to their race is deeply upsetting," neighbor Olivia Fu told KABC.
Parks, meanwhile, told the Times that the harassment railed against the Si family made her "physically ill," and that it has opened her eyes to the fact that racism is "alive and well" in Ladera Ranch.
"It's definitely made me sad for this community, because this is just a wonderful place full of friends and neighbors that love and care about each other," she told the Times.
Ladera Ranch is not the only area facing such issues: violent attacks against Asian Americans have been on the rise in the rest of California, too, as well as in major cities like New York City.
Preliminary statistics from 2020 indicate a tenfold increase in hate incidents against Asian Americans in Orange County specifically, Alison Edwards, chief executive of the nonprofit OC Human Relations, told the Times.
Though the newly organized neighborhood watch has helped keep harassers away, the outlet reported that a group did recently throw rocks at Si and volunteers one evening.
Despite the attacks, community members like Priscilla Huang, cofounder of the advocacy organization Asian Americans in Action, have continued to fight to make sure everyone feels welcome in the community.
To help mark the final day of Lunar New Year, Huang helped organize a celebration to bring people together and "show up for one another," she told KABC.
"I love my neighbors," Si told the Post. "I love my community, and I love my country."