UPDATED: Hmong community, supporters protest against alleged racist comments by Elk Grove Unified School District Trustee

The protest rally at the Elk Grove Unified School District started with the Pledge of Allegiance. |  UPDATED |  In a late-afternoon ra...

The protest rally at the Elk Grove Unified School District started with the Pledge of Allegiance. | 


In a late-afternoon rally organized by members of the Hmong community, over 200 people gathered at the Elk Grove Unified School District administrative offices to protest what they say were racist remarks by a district Trustee.

The rally, which was organized by a group calling itself the Hmong Ad Hoc committee, protested comments made by EGUSD Trustee Bobbie Singh-Allen that they say were demeaning to the Hmong culture. In an ongoing controversy with Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly, who is of Hmong descent, Singh-Allen criticized the centuries-old Hmong clan system in published reports and social media saying it was demeaning to women.

Singh-Allen made her comment after several women in Elk Grove, including Singh-Allen, accused Ly and members of the Hmong clan system of harassment. Another woman, Cosumnes Community Services District Director Jaclyn Moreno, said an aid of Ly made harassing statements towards her during the 2018 campaign when she was aligned with Ly.

The first three speakers at tonight's rally were Mia Foster, Sai Vang, and Marie Vue, members of the committee who organized the event. All three were consistent in defense of their culture and their message that the Hmong women are not subjugated.

'I grew up within the social and political constructs of the Hmong culture," Foster said. "I have seen and experienced first hand the validity of the culture, its progression, its beauty, and it's pain."

Foster went on to say if Singh-Allen was the social justice warrior she claims to be, "she might have been a little less reckless when using her position of privilege and power to speak about an entire culture that she has limited knowledge of."

Vang said she was saddened by Singh-Allen's comments, and the silence of elected officials in addressing their concerns is disappointing. She added the same officials are dismissive of their claims.

"We were labeled as Mayor Steve Ly's associates, everyone included in the [EGUSD] district turned a deaf ear to the Hmong community," Vang said. "Today, we are here to show that we cannot be silenced."

Vue, who opened her comments by shouting "justice" with the audience responding "now," discussed her upbringing where she experienced racism.

"I have lived through being a target because of my race, lived through being targeted because I spoke another language. I knew how that felt," Vue said. "It is concerning that in 2020 when racial tensions and crimes against Asian-Americans have skyrocketed, elected officials such as Bobbie-Singh-Allen and Jaclyn Moreno feel that it is ok to read hurtful and damaging statements about the Hmong community."

A host of Hmong community speakers and supporters who followed were all consistent in their message that they were protesting independent of Mr. Ly. Instead, they said, they were there to defend or support the Hmong community from what they said are racist attacks.

Addressing any possible role of Mayor Ly, speaker Fong Cha told the audience, "we sent ourselves because we are Hmong."

While many of the speakers talked about racism directed against the Hmong people, others offered conciliatory remarks. Among them was a man who identified himself as Mr. Singh who opened his comments saying he was not there in support of any particular person, but to address hate.

"We need to heal, we need to heal by communicating with each other, agreeing to disagree if we need to," Singh said. "If my friend Steve has made mistakes, let them be his mistakes, not the mistakes of the whole community."  

Addressing patriarchal systems, which was part of Ms. Singh-Allen's criticism of Mayor Ly, Mr. Singh noted his culture also has similar practices. 

"My community also has systems very similar," he said.

Other speakers offering support included Ali Moua and Maureen Craft, who are running for Elk Grove City Council District's 1 and 3, respectively, and Sean Yang, who is running for the Elk Grove Unified School District Board of Trustees. While all spoke in solidarity with the Hmong community, they did not discuss their respective campaigns.

UPDATED August 30, 1:30 p.m. - Four additional videos of speakers at the Friday event have been posted below.

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Steve L said...

Maybe if these Hmong leaders would comment on their view of the actions of the Hmong mayor, they would have a more desirable effect on the trustee and of the school board. Do these Hmongs support Mayor Ly and his actions of abuse, ridicule and harassment or are they appalled as many of us outsiders are?

I understand their point of view if they feel that the trustees comments were a blanket indictment on their culture. But I also have a hard time supporting their views when none of them have stated that the mayors inappropriate actions / inactions against five (not one, not two, not three) women are inappropriate and completely unethical. It seems to this objective observer that perhaps the trustee's point may be valid.

If I'm wrong, please step forward and state your disapproval of Mayor Ly and his actions. Actions speak loader than words.

I look forward to the Hmong response.

Unknown said...

Steve L, If you follow the story and listen to Bobbie Singh Allen and the 4 other women interviewed stories, you would know. What they said about Mayor Ly and the Hmong Community holds no solid concrete information, it's pretty much hearsay. Before I go on, I want you to know I'm Hmong and I don't support Mayor Ly inappropriate actions if the actions were true. However, the actions these ladies referring to Mayor Ly were investigated by the Elk Grove Police a while back. Mayor Ly was not found of any inappropriate actions, case closed. I don't really care whether Mayor Ly or Bobbie Singh Allen have beef at each other whether is positive or negative; I get it, it's all politics. However, for someone (Bobbie Singh Allen) who's running for Mayor to oversees a whole city(Elk Grove) to come out with no knowledge or experience and criticism an entire culture, especially the Hmong men is wrong. In addition, doesn't even second thought about it. Would you want someone like that to be your leader and represent your city? I don't care what color your skin is or background you come from, I know I don't want. Because hate and racism need to end in order for all colors of communities to be able to come together for a greater cause for the future of all American children.

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