WEST ALLIS — A West Allis alderman is frustrated after other city leaders opposed his resolution to condemn hate crimes against Asian-Americans. The Common Council ultimately passed a resolution condemning violence against all people.
As the only person of color on the West Allis Common Council, Alderman Angelito Tenorio said he felt a personal responsibility to introduce a resolution denouncing violence against fellow Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.
“I think of my family, I think of my mom, my aunts, my sister, when they go out to work, when they go out to the grocery store, they could be the next victim of the next fatality against Asian-Americans," he said.
Alderman Tenorio said he’s experienced anti-Asian hate firsthand since the onset of the pandemic, but he said the boiling point was the mass shooting last month in Atlanta that took the lives of six Asian-American women.
Alderman Tenorio said seven out of the ten alderpersons in West Allis co-sponsored his resolution condemning hate crimes against Asian-Americans, but he was met with resistance at a meeting Wednesday night from two aldermen in particular.
“I would ask you why would you exclude all the other people, all the other groups? Why would you exclude them and just include Asians?” Alderman Dan Roadt asked.
“We have for too long in this country divided people by groups," Alderman Tracy Stefanski said. "We are not groups, we are human beings.”
"Quite frankly, it's tone-deaf and it's hurtful,” Alderman Tenorio responded.
Instead of passing Tenorio’s resolution, the two opposing alders introduced an amended version condemning violence against all people. They forced a vote that received unanimous support from the committee, including from Tenorio who ultimately decided something was better than nothing.
“Of course, all hate crimes are bad,” Tenorio said. “For me, that’s a given, but right now, in this moment in American history where we’re seeing a specific uprise of hate crimes against Asian-American and Pacific Islanders, and I think it’s really important that we have that conversation, that we name what’s happening to Asian-Americans.”
Alderman Tenorio said his fight isn’t over. He plans to reintroduce his resolution condemning violence against Asian-Americans within the next month. He said Mayor Dan Devine is in support of his push.