SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – What’s normally a time of celebration has many members of the Asian American Pacific Islander community on edge this year. With a surge of violence nationwide and in the region, California lawmakers hope to change that.

“One of the hardest years of my life,” said Huan Tham, owner of Pho Bac Hoa Viet.

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Tham is saying goodbye to the past and welcoming in the Year of the Ox – hosting a socially-distant Lunar New Year celebration.

“All the errors, all the bad lucks, will go away,” he said.

The past year was full of bad luck, Tham says. As his restaurant faced pandemic problems, his community has dealt with increased racism. Recently, there have been violent attacks on elderly members in the Bay Area and racist graffiti seen on restaurants here in Elk Grove. The Stop AAPI Hate Project tracked nearly 3,000 hate crimes against California communities since March 2020.

“We are here to say enough is enough,” said State Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento).

Lawmakers like Pan are calling for change from everyone in the community as many other possible hate crimes could be going unreported. It’s why the API Legislative Caucus is now working together to find solutions – hoping to create an AAPI hate crime hotline.

“We need our state through the DOJ to establish these communication channels,” said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco).

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Locals like May were happy to hear it, sharing her own experience of being followed fearing she’d become a target.

“I started backing away cause I didn’t know what he was going to do,” she said.

Safe and sound with help from her neighbor, May knows others haven’t been so lucky.

“We had no leadership, nobody to stand up,” she said.

Now, she and many others are hopeful the year of the ox makes a difference.

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The API Legislative Caucus is also calling for the creation of a racial bias task force to share hate crimes in real-time.

Heather Janssen