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Statement from the Asian Law Caucus - April 17, 2023

April 17, 2023 News

SAN FRANCISCO – Aarti Kohli, executive director of the Asian Law Caucus, issued the following statement today:

Since the rise in anti-Asian racism and community fears for their safety, the Asian Law Caucus has been focused on how we can best support our communities. Like you, I am heartbroken, angry, and frustrated that everyday, families like Jasper Wu’s and Eliyanah Crisostomo’s are losing their loved ones by violence. As someone who recently worked with the survivors of the Half Moon Bay shooting, I believe strongly that all families deserve safety and justice.

I know talking about long term work provides little solace for survivors who are seeking a resolution today from the current criminal legal system, but what is certain is that we will surely fail at creating safer communities if we do not come together - as government, community organizations, and businesses - to address the root causes of racism and violence in our society.

Recently, I was dismayed and surprised to find ALC discussed in connection with the Alameda County District Attorney and the Jasper Wu case. Unfortunately, our work has been misconstrued and mischaracterized, and I would like to set the record straight.

Our staff had an introductory meeting with the DA’s staff on a potential long-term project to provide more culturally competent and in-language services that put the needs of survivors and victims at the center of their work. During this meeting there was no discussion of the Jasper Wu case.

On a systemic level, we are trying to address the fact that the criminal legal system fails to meet many of the most pressing needs of victims and survivors. As our communities’ experience with violence became increasingly visible over the last few years, we saw how often victims’ and survivors’ needs for mental health support, access to victim compensation funds, and financial stability go unaddressed.

Each victim and survivor should be able to choose their path toward healing and accountability. Instead, they are often left in the dark and have to navigate on their own an opaque and complex criminal legal system that provides victims and survivors with very limited participation in the process, constrains the options available to them, and generally prioritizes the system’s own structural imperatives over individual victims’ and survivors’ needs for agency, healing, wholeness, closure, and accountability. We are committed to empowering victims and survivors of violence and broadening the choices available to them, including restorative practices, beyond what the system currently offers.

I’ve appreciated all the people who have reached out to me to better understand our perspective and work. Please know that we are always ready to come together and engage in constructive dialogue.