Police investigating ‘hateful and racist’ vandalism in Chinatown, South Philly

The streets of Chinatown in April 2020. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The streets of Chinatown in April 2020. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said Wednesday that her department is “actively investigating” two incidents of “hateful and racist” vandalism in Chinatown and South Philadelphia.

“This national and local surge of racist rhetoric & acts of violence will not be tolerated. We denounce acts of hate targeted towards individuals and groups based on their race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin,” Outlaw wrote on Twitter.

Police say “hateful and anti-Chinese language” was written on a flower box at 10th and Vine streets, but did not specify what was written. The incident is being investigated as a possible bias incident. It occurred on Friday, but was not reported until Wednesday, according to police.

The department is also investigating an incident involving multiple uses of the N-word on the 2400 block of Montrose Street. The incident is also being investigated as a possible bias incident against Black people.

“We do not have exact times or dates for actual occurrences, but our investigators are working on gathering further evidence on possible suspects and motives,” said Officer Tanya Little, a police spokesperson.

Bias incidents are considered acts motivated by prejudice, but are not considered crimes, said Little.

The cases come roughly a week after a white man shot and killed eight people at three Asian spas in metro Atlanta, including six women of Asian descent.

Asian and Pacific Island communities across the country remain on edge after this and many other incidents of racism and harassment since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the U.S.

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Thoai Nguyen, chief executive officer of SEMACC in South Philadelphia, said he was surprised, but pleased to learn that the Philadelphia Police Department is investigating the recent acts of vandalism in the city.

“These small acts are actually very important to investigate and take seriously,” said Nguyen.  “The explosion of white supremacist terror in Atlanta a week ago is directly related to small incidents like this.”

“When you don’t confront those instances, they are left to fester. These people think that they can regard, speak about us, look at us, with impunity,” he added.

In her tweet on Wednesday, Outlaw encouraged anyone dealing with “incidents of racial bias or intimidation” to report them to their local police district or call 911.

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