Recent vandalism at new senior center in Akron sparks concerns about anti-Asian hate

Ajino Wah, site manager for a new senior center designed for Akron’s immigrant and refugee community, picked up the rock and twirled it in his hand, turning his head and nodding toward the trash can across the street.

“He just went back there, picked it up and came back and threw it through that glass door,” Wah said.

Footage showed a shirtless man in his 40s or 50s hurling that rock through the door, the latest in a string of crimes against the established facility.

The former facility of Asian Services in Action Inc. (ASIA Inc.) on Carroll Street and future home of the Jin Huo Community Senior Center was vandalized recently, the second act of vandalism to occur within a month. The facility has also been targeted by thieves twice since January.

Front door glass vandalism at former Asian Services in Action Inc. facility. (ASIA Inc.).

In the most recent incident, rocks thrown from the front door left behind a sea of ​​broken glass. This came just a month after the mosque was replaced, having been boarded up following an act of vandalism in March 2021 that previously damaged the glass door.

“It’s a shame that after waiting so long for the building to be renovated and to finally fix the glass in the front door, someone had to come and destroy what we’re trying to make beautiful for the seniors,” Wah said.

Last month, the cables in the basement were destroyed, with the copper stolen presumably to be sold for scrap. This is the second time in six months that such an act has occurred, according to May Chen, co-founder of ASIA Inc.

A backpack with drug paraphernalia was found last month near that vandalism site, officials said.

Repair costs for the January incident reached $70,000, officials said.

A police complaint was filed about the incident. Akron police could not be reached for comment.

Site to house new senior center for Akron’s refugee and immigrant community

The vacant lot in Akron’s Middlebury neighborhood will soon become the Jin Huo Community Senior Center, a program affiliated with ASIA Inc.

Asian Americans 60 and older can participate in the Lucky Seniors Program, which aims to improve both mental and physical health through a variety of social and educational activities, according to the ASIA Inc. website.

The center will have an open house on September 29 and will be fully operational soon after.

“We envision this space as a safe haven for immigrants and refugees residing in Northeast Ohio,” Chen said. “We want to contribute to the well-being of not only the seniors who participate in this program but also the Middlebury neighborhood as a whole.”

The center’s intention to be a safe space for elderly residents has worried some officials, as this act of vandalism coincides with a recent rise in anti-Asian racism and xenophobia amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

ASIA Inc. CEO: Unclear if vandalism was act of anti-Asian hate

“We understand that there is undoubtedly some anti-Asian bias in the age of COVID-19, and while we can’t be sure if this act of vandalism was anti-Asian, we just don’t want refugees to have to be wary of coming to this neighborhood,” said Elaine Tso, CEO of ASIA Inc.

“At the same time, this is a community that is very happy to be with each other, supported and culturally valued, and we believe that their need to come together will overcome any fear of crime in the area,” Tso said.

Akron:Akron Asian Americans Concerned About Racism

The March 2021 shooting in Atlanta that left six Asian women dead is just one example of the anti-Asian bias that has become so prevalent since the start of the pandemic. Over 11,000 incidents of Asian discrimination from March 2020 to March 2022 have been reported, according to Stop AAPI Hate.

ASIA Inc., which strives to support the Asian immigrant and refugee community in Northeast Ohio, is located at 370 E. Market St. To learn more about ASIA Inc., visit www.asiaohio.org.

Reporter Anthony Thompson can be reached at ajthompson@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AThompsonABJ

This article originally appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal: ASIA Inc’s former Akron facility vandalized, anti-Asian fears raised

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.