The national Yellow Whistle Campaign is coming to San Diego on Monday. It gives the elderly an extra tool to stay safe and is raising awareness about discrimination against Asian Americans.
“We’re gonna be handing out these whistles. We’re handing out 250 to start and hopefully we can see this groundswell of positivity where we can try to distribute even more,” said Chris Cate, councilmember from San Diego’s 6th district.
The Yellow Whistle campaign started in April in New York and will continue through May. The whistles can be used to call for help. Campaign organizers say the yellow whistle is also a symbol of self-protection and solidarity.
“I think it will be a good idea for all seniors, especially if they live alone,” said Minita Meri, a Mira Mesa resident.
Some San Diegans have expressed shock over videos showing anti-Asian violence in other parts of the country.
“It worries me a lot. I’m glad they’re giving out whistles, so people can let you know if they’re in danger. It’s sad what they’re doing to people out there,” said Matthew Lizarda, a Logan Heights resident.
A recent study from California State San Bernardino found anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 169 % during the pandemic.
“What went on with the pandemic, a lot of homelessness, a lot of people having problems, I think that caused a lot of the tensions to resurface,” said Joseph Lopez, a San Diego resident.
Researchers say there are a variety of reasons more discrimination is happening. In San Diego, community leaders are encouraging more people to come forward and report incidents.
“There’s a difference between a hate crime and a hate incident so even if you suffer a hate incident, it’s important to report that to the police or to the district attorney’s office, because we know a hate incident can turn into a hate crime and we want to prevent that,” said Cate.
The San Diego County District Attorney is investigating at least three anti-Asian hate crimes that have happened since the start of the pandemic, but local advocates say the number of incidents is likely much higher.