Police in Los Angeles are investigating after someone vandalized a Buddhist temple and set a small fire inside the complex.
The Los Angeles Times reported that security camera footage provided to police and arson investigators by the temple's minister, Rev. Noriaki Ito, showed a man scaling a security fence Thursday evening before setting two lantern stands on fire, demolishing a glass window, and breaking two large lanterns.
“Your first feelings are those of disappointment and sadness to see what happened,” he told the Times. “I don’t know the motives, but it looks like we were targeted. The only relief I find is that no one was hurt.”
A spokesperson for the fire department confirmed that arson investigators were handling the response, while a police spokesperson said that the investigation was in its "preliminary stages" and could not yet be officially confirmed as a hate crime.
Reports of attacks against Asian-Americans and community centers in Asian-American communities have grown amid the COVID-19 pandemic and former President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE's frequent efforts to tie the virus to China in the minds of Americans by using terms such as the "China Virus" and more racist variants like the "Kung Flu."
Prominent figures in the Asian-American community including Daniel Dae Kim have spoken out against violent attacks against the Asian-American community in recent weeks.
"Those of us who are in the Asian American community or who care about the Asian-American community -- have watched these kinds of incidents populating our feed for the last year," Kim told "Good Morning America" earlier this month. "After one or two you would think that there would be a light shined on it. But, over the past year, it has gotten worse."
Ito said that the vandalism, coupled with an incident of theft that occurred last week, would spur the temple's staff to invest in more security.
“This is going to lead to changes where we’re going to have 24-hour security, at least during the weekdays,” he told the newspaper. “We’ve been here 45 years and this has never happened.”