California’s Siskiyou County and Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue are accused of racially harassing the Asian-American community in a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California.
the federal lawsuit claims the county and its sheriff were involved in “a sweeping campaign to harass and intimidate Hmong and other Asian Americans.”
Asian-American residents in Siskiyou County have been harassed by deputies through traffic stops, falsely accused of criminal activity and discriminated against in public meetings, according to the class action suit filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento.
“In the service of this campaign, the defendants used widespread racial profiling at traffic stops, restricted access to water that made it difficult for Asian-American residents to live, and placed illegal liens to deprive Asian Americans of their land,” lawsuit claims. “This targeting aims to drive an unfavorable racial minority out of the province and has its roots in anti-Asian racism in Siskiyou dating back to the 1800s.”
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The ACLU lawsuit, which is also supported by the Asian Americans Advancing Justice in San Francisco, is being led by four Asian-American community members. It follows another lawsuit filed against provincial officials last year alleging new policies restricting water use and supplies targeted Hmong farmers who grow marijuana. a district judge previously released a preliminary injunction against the county in the pending lawsuit.
Siskiyou County is home to less than 45,000 people, with only Asian-American residents which amounts to 1.6 percent of the province. Many of the Asian-American residents belong to the Hmong community who sought refuge in the United States after fighting alongside the US government in the Vietnam War.
“When we came here, we bought real estate here, we felt like we were in an uncomfortable zone or environment,” said Siskiyou County resident Peter Thao. NBC Bay Area.
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County officials have since denied any racial bias against Asian Americans; however, a controversy around the June 2021 deadly shooting of Soobleej Kaub Hawj, a 35-year-old Hmong farmer, has heightened tensions. The four officers involved in the shooting incident were acquitted by the Siskiyou County District Attorney, alleging that Hawj had high levels of methamphetamine and that he pointed a loaded gun at officers before ramming his truck at them. The decision to evict the officers has been questioned by Asian Americans who promote justice.
“Last year my family and I were driving outside of Shasta Vista and were stopped by two sheriff’s officers. We were questioned for half an hour about what we were doing and where we came from,” said Mai Nou Vang, one of the US Hmong prosecutors in the case. shared. “They searched our car without a warrant and eventually let us go with a ticket to fix a hood. My story is not unique. So many of my Asian neighbors have been stopped in this way by the police as we try to spend our days doing errands and visiting loved ones.”
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“If this can happen to Siskiyou County, it could happen to any county here in California, or to other states in the United States,” Thao said.
Featured image via The Sacramento Bee
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