Relman Colfax condemns the mass shooting in Georgia on the night of March 16. This brutal assault is the predictable consequence of the ugly stereotypes and rhetoric aimed by irresponsible political leaders at members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. The anti-AAPI tropes of this pandemic age are not new; they have been embedded in our laws and in our national fabric for a century and a half. As a firm, we commit ourselves—in word and in deed—to dismantling this ugly history and the violence and discrimination it breeds.
We mourn for the victims of the Atlanta murders, those mothers, daughters, business owners, and hardworking believers in the American dream, who were targeted because of their race and sex. We also mourn the other incidents of violence and hate that have been committed against Asians and Asian Americans in unspeakable numbers this past year. Ever since Donald Trump used his bully pulpit to blame the pandemic on China, our AAPI friends and relatives have found themselves targeted at home and at work. Words have consequences, and while we are not surprised, we grieve.
We commit ourselves to learn about the long history of racist, exclusionary laws targeting people of Asian descent—laws that remained on the books until the modern time. The Page Act of 1875, for example, banned the entry of Chinese women, a group of people the law’s sponsor had deemed categorically “immoral”; it was the US’s first restrictive federal immigration law. From 1942 to 1945, Japanese Americans, including 66,000 American citizens, were held in internment camps for no reason other than the color of their skin. We are also reminded about the intersectionality of our nation’s troubles. We listen, painfully, to the ubiquitous debate unfold around the motives behind the March 16 murders (sex versus race) while ignoring the colonialism, misogyny, and class inequity underlying all of it. We will bear witness as Georgia tests its first high-profile use of a hate crime law that was only passed last year after the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man shot dead while he was jogging last summer. This week’s tragedy reminds us—not for the first or last time—that our fates are inextricably intertwined.
Since its inception, our firm has challenged discriminatory practices in courts across the country. We commit to using our financial resources and litigation skills to join, support, and amplify the struggles of our AAPI allies in the battle for racial justice and inclusion, particularly in matters involving housing, lending, employment, education, public accommodations, and policing.
On all of this, we stand in solidarity with the our colleagues and allies in the AAPI community—and all others who strive for a just and equitable society—to mourn, to learn, and to take action. Consistent with our prior commitments in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, we continue to strive to build a more just, inclusive, equitable, and intentional society—at our firm, in our litigation practice, and in our community.
Relman Colfax PLLC