Fighting anti-Asian hate crimes

A RALLY condemning violence and hate speech against Asians and Asian Americans was held in New York (Shutterstock).

Anti-Asian hate incidents and hate crimes are on the rise, but an area state legislator is proposing a bill to create regionalized task forces to meet the problem.

Assemblymember Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) has written a bill – AB 1336 – to better coordinate enforcement of these offenses, which often go unreported. “People have been harassed, they have been shunned, personal property has been vandalized and in some cases, acts of physical violence and death have occurred,” said Nguyen.

On April 18 a man punched an elderly Asian couple in the face while they were walking in a park in Orange. The attacker was arrested and may be connected to an incident with a Japanese American in the same park on April 1.

While attacks on Asian Americans have grabbed the headlines in recent weeks, the proposed bill would seek to curb all such offenses through more complete accounting of hate-based crimes and fostering more collaboration among law enforcement agencies.

Nguyen’s bill has been unanimously approved by the state Assembly’s Public Safety Committee and now heads to the Assembly floor for vote there.

The origin of the “Twinkie” defense

The recent decision to begin flying the rainbow flag of the gay pride movement at Huntington Beach City Hall starting on Harvey Milk Day revives the story of one of the strangest legal actions in American history.

Milk was a gay rights activist who was elected to the board of supervisors for the city and county of San Francisco in 1977. On Nov. 27, 1978, Milk – along with Mayor George Moscone – was fatally shot by another supervisor, Dan White, in city hall.

There was no question as to White’s guilt, so his defense attorney’s argued that, at the time of the killings, that he had “diminished capacity.” The cause? White had gone from a healthy diet to one full of sugary drinks and foods, including the Twinkie.

White’s attorneys didn’t argue that consumption of the classic cream-filled cake was the cause of his actions, but instead was a symptom of his mental state. The jury accepted enough of that theory – which some reporters mockingly called “the Twinkie defense” – to convict him of voluntary manslaughter. Announcement of the verdict was followed by the “White Night Riots” which caused widespread damage to the city hall and the surrounding area. Rioters and police officers suffered injuries.

White was sentenced to seven years in prison and served five. However, he did not escape the consequences of the killings. He committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning on Oct. 21, 1985.

“Usually Reliable Sources” is posted every other week, alternating with Jim Tortolano’s Retorts column.



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