Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association

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  • Fri, September 11, 2020 4:56 AM | Anonymous

    MNAPABA joins the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers, Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association, and Executive Committee of the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association to denounce this blatant practice of criminalizing Black and Brown victims of violence. Please read our full statement below.

    Statement Against Criminalization of Black and Brown Victims

    On May 25, 2020, four Minneapolis police officers killed George Floyd. Minnesota, the rest of our country, and the world witnessed the last minutes of Mr. Floyd’s life; Floyd, a father, a son, and, more importantly, a human being, lay with his head pressed into the cement, empty hands bound with cuffs, pleading for mercy and the comfort of his dead mother. The source of his distress: four Minneapolis police officers. Eventually, the four officers were charged with crimes for their acts and omissions. Because we are a nation of laws, they deserve a fair trial. Nothing should interfere with that sacred right.

    We should be clear, however, that it is those accused of killing George Floyd that are on trial—not George Floyd. Recent court filings by the attorneys representing some of the criminal defendants would suggest otherwise. For instance, the attorneys for Officer Thomas Lane exhumed records of Mr. Floyd’s prior encounters with law enforcement and convictions dating back some seventeen years. They call him “an addict” and a liar who should not be believed. And they seek to justify the killing of Mr. Floyd by pointing to the location of his arrest as if where you frequent should have any bearing on whether you have a right to be free from violence at the hands of law enforcement.

    The smearing of Mr. Floyd’s character is nothing more than racial stereotyping masquerading as historical and objective facts. Since the birth of the Eugenics movement in 1883[1], junk science theories have been used to propagate negative stereotypes that people of color are less intelligent, sub-human, and that Black men in particular, are prone to savagery and deserve to die or be killed with impunity. To promote this bias and rhetoric, in cases such as Mr. Floyd’s, some historical facts such as Mr. Floyd’s criminal history are offered to incite prejudice, distract from important decision-making, and bias the ultimate decision-makers.

    Today, the sexual history of victims of sexual assault is all but off-limits in the courts because, though historical and objective, it is wholly irrelevant to the question of whether the defendant committed the alleged crime. The focus on the sexual history of victims in those cases—before laws were passed barring their revictimization—is clear: distract from the ultimate question (i.e., did the State prove that the defendant committed the crime with proof beyond a reasonable doubt?) and (2) play on long-held stereotypes and biases of the jury that the victim is less worthy of justice. 

    George Floyd’s criminal history and struggles with substance abuse were offered with the same goals: to distract, dehumanize, and play on deeply-rooted and indelible racist stereotypes. This is not right. We believe that all Americans are protected by the same Constitution, irrespective of where they live, their prior encounters with law enforcement, or their past struggles. 

    We also see that this strategy takes on a special ugliness when engaged by those who defend the police officers who have been accused of killing Black and Brown Americans. It is a strategy used to try to justify the senseless killings of people of color time and again.  We need look no further than what occurred in the aftermath of the death of Eric Garner (as if selling loose cigarettes warrants the death penalty); Michael Brown (suggesting a teenager’s physical size and unproven and unrelated criminal conduct justified his killing); Akai Gurley (suggesting that Mr. Gurley was more of a threat because he was killed in the vicinity of public housing and because of his physical stature); Tamir Rice (as if a twelve-year old child’s physical size and his mother’s lifestyle excuse his killing); Freddie Gray (emphasizing where he lived, his physical stature, and prior interactions with law enforcement to exonerate his killers); and countless others. This is not a new phenomenon or a new tactic. Nor is it a creative, new argument Officer Lane’s lawyers happened upon. It is a phenomenon so familiar and prevalent; we all know it when we see it.[2] While the strategy may not be new, the pain it causes cuts deep every time it is wielded and unmistakably screams to every person of color: “your Black and Brown bodies do not matter and you are less deserving of the protections of the law.”   

    The strategy of attempting to distract from law enforcement’s conduct by inciting prejudice and dehumanizing the victims of violence is racist. Lawyers know better and must be better. And we should hold them to account when they do not. 

    The Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers, Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association, Executive Committee of the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association, and Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association denounce this blatant practice of criminalizing Black and Brown victims of violence. It is clear that this strategy is intended to fuel racial prejudice in a case being watched across the country.  

    We encourage everyone to resist the smoke and mirrors that stoke ugly biases that have been deliberately developed against Black and Brown victims in America for centuries. Let each of us check our own biases and abandon notions that a Black or Brown victim’s parentage, or his/her family or personal history somehow grant permission for him/her to be killed on our streets. 

    We believe it is time that the Minnesota State Legislature enact a victim’s rights bill focused on the rights of the victims of police brutality and violence. The legislation should limit the use of prior medical histories, criminal histories, and substance abuse histories by law enforcement to justify police brutality and violence, much like rape shield laws (blocking the admission and introduction of past sexual history of victims of sexual violence, except in limited circumstances).  

    If not now, when?

    Footnotes:

    [1] “Eugenics” was a term coined in 1883 by England’s Francis Galton. He combined the Greek words for “good” and “born” to refer to the social philosophy advocating the improvement of human heredity through selective breeding. Eugenics became the bedrock of white supremacist movements, most notably, the Nazi eugenics effort to “stamp out mental inferiority among the German people,” and it was hoped by some that Hitler’s “efforts along that line will be a great success and will advance the eugenics movement in other nations as well as in Germany.” Letter from Dr. Charles F. Dight, President, Minnesota Eugenics Society, to Chancellor Adolf Hitler (August 1, 1933).

    [2] See CalvinJohn Smily and David Fakunle, From “brute” to “thug:” the demonization and criminalization of unarmed Black male victims in America, J Hum Behav Soc Environ. 2016; 26(3-4): 350–366 (2016) (analyzing media coverage of police killings of Black males and the recurring narratives designed to incite prejudice and play upon stereotypes) and Kristin Dukes and Sarah E. Gaither, Black Racial Stereotypes and Victim Blaming: Implications for Media Coverage and Criminal Proceedings in Cases of Police Violence against Racial and Ethnic Minorities: Victim Blaming and Race, Journal of Social Issues 73(4):789-807 (2017) (discussing how the use of racially charged stereotypes in the media impact public perception and juror perception of victims of police violence).

  • Tue, June 02, 2020 1:00 PM | Anonymous

    On behalf of the MNAPABA Board of Directors:

    The unjustifiable loss of George Floyd’s life in Minnesota saddens us immensely. We stand with the Black community, the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers (MABL), and all local and national leaders who call for justice for George Floyd and demand changes in the culture and policies of institutions and systems that have failed the Black community for generations. Please read our full MNAPABA and NAPABA statement here.

    Vincent Pham, President of MNAPABA 2019-20

  • Mon, June 01, 2020 1:00 PM | Anonymous

    Open Letter to Community:

    A call for unity and solidarity in the face of violence

    May 29, 2020

    Dear Community,

    Earlier this week, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was murdered by the Minneapolis police. George Floyd’s death is a continuation of the long history of criminalization, dehumanization, and oppression of Black lives in this country since its founding. As immigrants and refugees to the U.S., our families may not always understand this history, but we inherited its legacy. Our communities have also benefited from Black freedom struggles that paved the way for our own fights for freedom and equal treatment in America. So, in this moment, it matters that we commit to Black liberation and raise our voices to say that #BlackLivesMatter. We emphatically call on our Asian communities to center George Floyd’s life and continue to amplify the demands from his family and community for justice.

    Already, Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities (BIPOC) in Minnesota were disproportionately suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our families and small businesses are struggling, the health impacts on communities of color have been disproportionately high, our family members are disproportionately on the front lines in essential jobs, and racist and xenophobic stigmatization early on resulted in the increase of anti-Asian violence. So, we write this knowing that BIPOC communities are hurting badly from the pandemic. Now, as Asian community members are targeted and businesses are damaged, our communities are in pain. We recognize that pain will continue to be there for Asian communities. Yet as we care for each other, we cannot let our pain distract us from George Floyd’s life and the community’s demands for justice.

    We also cannot ignore the role of Officer Tou Thao who stood watch as George Floyd was dying. To see someone who looks like us behave as a bystander to Black death is devastating and painful. This is yet another reason that we must recognize our silence in the face of anti-Black racism, and commit to the ongoing work to dismantle anti-Blackness.

    Throughout history, there have been attempts to pit Asian and Black communities against each other, a tactic that encourages us to turn on each other rather than tackle our common oppression: the systems of white supremacy. These efforts distract us from the real solution of building cross-racial solidarity to root out racist oppression. And while Asian communities have been rewarded for our assimilation into whiteness with the lie of the “model minority” myth, it is at times like this crisis that we should remember that our status is always conditional and subject to being taken away by xenophobia.

    That is why in this painful moment, we ask our Asian communities to choose our shared liberation. Let us remain focused on the systems responsible for the loss of George Floyd’s life and too many other Black lives, most recently including Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Let us support and uplift Black-led organizing happening through NAACP Mpls, Black Visions Collective, Black Immigrant Collective, Black Lives Matter MN, Reclaim the Block and MN Freedom Fund. We amplify their demands to Minneapolis City Council Members, Mayor Frey, County Attorney Freeman, and other authorities to charge all of the officers involved and to divest from the MPD and other systems of oppression.

    Let us stand united for Black lives not only when lives are lost, but in everyday recognition that our liberation is tied together. Let us also commit to the ongoing work of addressing the anti-Blackness in our own communities and choose to fight for Black lives the way we would our own. Our struggles must be linked to truly achieve our vision of a Minnesota and a country where all our communities can thrive.


    In solidarity,

    Asian Minnesotan Organizations

    Asian American Organizing Project (AAOP)

    Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance-MN (APALA-MN)

    CAPI USA

    Coalition of Asian American Leaders (CAAL)

    Cultural Society of Filipino Americans (CSFA)

    Filipinx for Immigrant rights and Racial justice MN (FIRM)

    Hmong American Partnership (HAP)

    Japanese American Citizens League, Twin Cities Chapter (TC JACL)

    ManForward

    Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association (MNAPABA)

    National Association of Asian American Professionals – Minnesota (NAAAP MN)

    Pan Asian Voice for Equity-MN (PAVE-MN)

    Philippine Study Group of Minnesota (PSGM)

    India Association of Minnesota (IAM)

    Release MN8

    Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment (RISE)

    Sewa-Aifw

    SEIU Asian Pacific Islander Caucus

    Siengkane Lao MN

    Theater Mu

    The Southeast Asian Diaspora (SEAD) Project

    Transforming Generations

    United Senior Lao-American

    UMN Asian American Studies Program

    Vietnamese Social Services of Minnesota


    For more information about the Asian Minnesotans Against Racism & Xenophobia Collaborative, please email info@caalmn.org.


  • Wed, April 01, 2020 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    JOINT STATEMENT

    Tuesday, March 31, 2020

    Asian Minnesotan Organizations Urge Communities and Leaders to Be Proactive About COVID-19 Related Racism and Violence Against Asian American and Pacific Islanders

    We are a set of Asian Minnesotan organizations serving our diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) population across Minnesota. In recent weeks, we have heard stories of racism and violent acts of bigotry against AAPI from within the state and across the country that have our community members worried about the safety of themselves and their families. Given the many historical examples of racism during times of crisis against Indigenous, Black, Latinx, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh immigrants, refugees and undocumented people, we urge communities and leaders to take this seriously before it escalates. In this unprecedented time, we must ensure everyone is cared for and feels safe. We stand together to condemn all acts of harassment, discrimination and bias against APIs, and call for more bold leadership and actions to protect all communities.

    Because COVID-19 was unknown to the public until the outbreak in Wuhan, China, some Americans feel justified in spreading xenophobic messages that blames Asian-identifying people for this deadly virus. Racist actions ranging from using xenophobic and racial slurs, to refusing customer service, to outright physical attacks have also increased. While there is understandable growing anxiety due to the spread of COVID-19, misplaced Asian rhetoric and discrimination weakens our collective ability to protect each other and work toward a healthier future.

    American history provides important lessons about how race has been used to demonize, exclude, and divert blame Asian Americans for America’s sufferings through:

    • the Chinese Exclusion Act
    • laws that prevented Filipino family reunification during the Great Depression
    • internment of Japanese Americans being labeled enemies during WWII
    • the killing of Vincent Chin during the American auto industry crash
    • attacking Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus after 9/11
    • racist targeting over hunting grounds in Minnesota that led to racists slogans like “Save a Hunter, Shoot a Hmong”
    • targeted detainment and deportation of Southeast Asians Immigrants and refugees

    The various ways Asian Americans have been and continue to be discriminated against provides perspective about why Asian Minnesotans now fear for their physical safety and family security when our nation’s leaders irresponsibly label a disease to a whole community.

    COVID-19 is an aggressive virus that does not discriminate against race, ethnicity, color, class, gender, sexuality, ability, and citizenship status. Anyone can fall ill or carry the virus. It will require every person to rise to the occasion in order to flatten the curve to prevent catastrophic outcomes. Though we applaud some local and state leaders who have condemned racist acts against AAPIs, we urge communities and leaders to be vigilant in their commitment to not only condemn but to respond to racism against AAPIs at this time. We also ask that everyone publicly and proudly support local Asian-owned businesses and organizations.

    We acknowledge that our Native/Indigenous, Black, African, Latinx, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, refugee, immigrant, undocumented, and LGBTQ+ communities are among those who have had similar experiences with discrimination and racism, and we stand in solidarity and denounce hate speech, discrimination, and violence against these communities as well.

    Asian Minnesotan Organizations in solidarity to prevent and end racism and violence against community:


    Asian American Organizing Project (AAOP)

    Asian Media Access

    CAPI USA

    Coalition of Asian American Leaders (CAAL)

    Filipinx for Immigrant Rights & Racial Justice MN (FIRM)

    Hmong 18 Clan Council

    Hmong American Farmer Association (HAFA)

    Hmong American Partnership (HAP)

    Hmong Museum

    Hmong Women Achieving Together (HWAT)

    India Association of Minnesota (IAM)

    Indigenous Roots

    Japanese American Citizens League (JACL)

    Karen Organization of Minnesota (KOM)

    Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota (LACM)

    Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association (MNAPABA)

    National Association of Asian American Professionals Minnesota (NAAAP MN)

    Philippine Study Group of Minnesota (PSGM)

    Regional Tibetan Youth Congress - Minnesota

    (RTYC - MN)

    Release MN8

    Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment (RISE)

    Siengkane Lao MN (SKLM)

    The SEAD Project

    Theater Mu

    Transforming Generations

    Vietnamese Social Services (VSS)

    Wat Promwachirayan


  • Wed, March 11, 2020 7:57 AM | Anonymous

    MNAPABA member Evan Tsai will be recognized at the RCBA Judges’ Dinner this year on Thursday, March 26. Evan has been chosen to receive the 2020 RCBA Distinguished Humanitarian Award from the RCBA. If you are interested in attending the dinner and supporting Evan, you can find more details here. Congratulations, Evan!

  • Fri, May 10, 2019 9:42 AM | Victoria Dutcher (Administrator)

    MNAPABA nominated Immediate Past President Melitta Drechsler for the Ramsey County Bar Association's Excellence in Diversity Award. Melitta will be receiving the award on June 5 at 9am at the RCBA's Diversity Committee CLE at the First National Bank Building in St. Paul.  

    Congratulations, Melitta! 

    For more information about the event, please visit https://www.ramseybar.org/event/rcbadiversitycle/ 

  • Thu, January 10, 2019 4:53 PM | Anonymous


    When: Thursday, February 7
    12:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
    Where: University of St. Thomas School of Law
    1101 Harmon Pl.
    Minneapolis, Minnesota  55403
    United States
    Contact: Sarah Mayer
    sarah@hcba.org
    612-752-6600


    To register: https://www.hcba.org/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1188957&group=an



  • Sat, November 03, 2018 10:26 PM | Alex Dyste-Demet (Administrator)

    On Tuesday, 10/30, MNAPABA participated in the Jeremiah Program's Cook For Kids program. We provided dinner for approximately 25 families. Our spaghetti dinner was a hit, but the kids enjoyed the Halloween-themed cupcakes the most. 


  • Sat, November 03, 2018 9:08 PM | Anonymous

    On October 17 and November 2, various board members attended "Meet the Bar" events at St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota Law School in an effort to introduce law students to MNAPABA. Take a look at board members Richard Liu and Sukanya Momsen at the University of Minnesota Law School last week. 



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