Advocacy Organizations Launch Petition Asking Mayor Lightfoot to Make Public Statement Addressing Surge of Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans in Chicago

April 23, 2020
Contact: Nikki Metzgar
(202) 599-7642 /

CHICAGO — Today, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and HANA Center launched a petition calling on Mayor Lightfoot to stand with the Asian American community against the surge of racist harassment and assault targeting them in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. This comes after weeks of talks to raise the issue with Lightfoot’s office and collaborate on a solution to this nationwide problem. 

While President Trump has used terms such as “Chinese virus” to associate the illness with persons of Asian descent, Asian Americans in Chicago have been spat on, yelled at, and physically attacked. Sales at AAPI-owned businesses plummeted long before stores and restaurants closed by city mandate. Asian American women have reported twice as many instances of hate, violence, and harassment when compared to men. NAPAWF members and staff have personally experienced instances of verbal harassment and abuse and their stories are available to press upon request. 

Mayor Lightfoot should make a public statement to increase awareness of the danger facing Asian Americans and call on all Chicagoans to help create a safe environment for every person. Eighteen local organizations have signed on in support of the petition: AIDS Foundation of Chicago, The Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights & Empowerment, American Friends Service Committee – Chicago, Chicago Abortion Fund, Friends Who March, Hope Clinic for Women, Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, Indo-American Center, Japanese American Citizens League Chicago, Japanese American Service Committee, Justice with Jax, KAN-WIN, Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Men4Choice, Midwest Access Project, Mujeres Latinas en Acción, Personal PAC, Planned Parenthood of Illinois, StopCVE Coalition – Chicago, Vietnamese Association of Illinois, and Women Engaged.

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum Executive Director Sung Yeon Choimorrow issued the following statement:

“Asian American women in Chicago are increasingly alarmed that we’ll be targeted with harassment and violence because of our race, ethnicity, or national origin if we step outside to get groceries or go to work. Mayor Lightfoot has a critical role to play in denouncing the racist misinformation around the coronavirus and ensuring the safety of our Asian American community. We believe a community response — not a law enforcement response — will be the most effective. We’re safer if our neighbors know about the risk we’re taking every time we venture outside and are engaged in being part of the solution.”

HANA Center Executive Director Inhe Choi issued the following statement:

“The Korean American community, along with other Asian American Pacific Islander communities has become a target of racism in our everyday life. We have been shouted at to go back to China on CTA, pushed with a shopping cart while being yelled at to stay away, and witnessed people telling their children to hide because there are Asians walking by. We fear for the physical, mental and emotional safety of our community members. Also, many of our small businesses are doubly hit – both because of the pandemic and the shelter in place that limits business transactions but also from people avoiding their businesses because they are Asian American. We must, as a city, come together, from leadership to everyday residents, and support the Asian American community against racism.”

# # #

The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is the only multi-issue, progressive, community organizing and policy advocacy organization for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and girls in the U.S. NAPAWF’s mission is to build collective power so that all AAPI women and girls can have full agency over our lives, our families, and our communities.