'You can't wait until it happens': Local Asian American organization upping safety amid rise in Asian-targeted hate crimes

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- New research is showing that hate crimes targeting the Asian American community is at an all time high. Local Asian American groups said its concerning and sad but one is upping their safety.

The assistant director at the Hmong American Friendship Association, Amoun Sayaovong, said he physical safety of his peers and family has been his main concern since the height of the pandemic.

After hearing about several fatal attacks on Asian americans, Sayaovong said he's in the process of creating a safety plan of if and when they're confronted by an active shooter.

"As the associate director that was one of my primary concerns when I got in here was I wanted to draft a plan of how to deal with active shooters," said Sayaovong.

He said his safety program would focus on how to subdue an active shooter and tactics on how to make sure employees are safe.

" You can't wait until its happens and then it's too late," he said.

According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 339 percent in the last year. The Milwaukee Police Department told CBS 58 News that they've reported zero hate crimes involving Asian Americans. Some organizations said hate crimes, especially in the Asian community, are under reported.

" One thing we need to continue to do is come together as a community to call it out and report it," said Erik Kennedy who is a part of the AAPI Coalition of Wisconsin and founder of ElevAsian.

Kennedy said he's experienced prejudice first hand.

" I was coming out of a workout in the East side of Milwaukee and some community member felt the need to say some inappropriate hateful related Asian slurs at me," said Kennedy.

Kennedy adds that he regained his power by reporting it to authorities and suggest the Asian community continue to speak up to those attackers. He said that trust and comfortability between authorities and the Asian community has to be tightened in order for more victims to come forward.

For Amoun Sayaovong said its also about educating others about different cultures.

" The best way is to expose your culture to other people and interact. Because when you interact with people it allows for people to see that you are human," said Sayaovong.

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