SOUTH PORTLAND — At the Human Rights Commission’s request, the city council passed a resolution condemning acts of hate against Asian Americans on April 20.

“The City of South Portland pauses in its work to condemn recent acts of violence and terror targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” the resolution said. “We unequivocally grieve the loss of life and stand in solidarity with our Asian American and Pacific Islander residents in our community.”

Pedro Vazquez, member of the South Portland Human Rights Commission, asked the city council to pass a resolution condemning anti-Asian hate on April 13.

Pedro Vazquez, representing the Human Rights Commission, made the request to the city council on April 13.

“We have brought this declaration before you in support of our Asian American and Pacific Islander community members who have been recently targeted and been the recipients of unimaginable violence and terror, as been seen in the media,” Vazquez said. “Outside the national scope here, locally we have friends and neighbors who are just a little more vigilant when they go to the grocery store now. When they’re driving around they’re a little more aware of their surroundings. Our friends and neighbors shouldn’t have to live like that.”

Councilors voiced their support of the resolution.

“I think we, as elected leaders, need to make these statements especially when there are elected leaders who are adding to the fire,” Mayor Misha Pride said.

Councilor Katelyn Bruzgo said she would always support statements condemning racism in the community.

“People need to hear we’re against racism and we’re against this type of violence,” Bruzgo said.

More than 100 people gather at Payson Park for a vigil against anti-Asian violence on March 30. The gathering, organized by Unified Asian Communities, comes amid a dramatic rise in anti-Asian violence nationwide. Brianna Soukup photo/Press Herald

“I feel like it’s bad enough that people have to deal with racism on an everyday basis, but then to have these escalated spikes and pockets of hatred and violence is really stomach-turning,” said councilor April Caricchio.

Vazquez said the Human Rights Commission looks to uplift all members of the community, but wanted to condemn acts of violence in this instance.

“If you are a bystander and you see these types of acts, even if they are microaggressions, there are resources and training you can participate in so you can become a shield, use your privilege, use your voice to uplift those in your community who have traditionally marginalized and excluded,” Vazquez said.

Superintendent of Schools Ken Kunin spoke in support of the resolution, adding that the school department sent a letter to students and families after a recent event in Atlanta, where a man killed eight people, six of whom were of Asian descent.

“We knew we had students coming back into school the next Monday who needed to know very clearly where we stood,” Kunin said.

The letter states, “As a community, we reject and condemn hateful acts of xenophobia, racism, harassment and bigotry.”

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