Legislators and citizens across the country this weekend condemned violence against Asian Americans and called for greater solidarity with the community after six Asian women were killed in gunfights in Atlanta on Tuesday, which also killed two others.
Korean-American Representatives Michelle Steel and Young Kim, both Republicans who represent districts in Southern California, spoke through CNN’s State of the Union about the rise in violence against Asian Americans in recent months.
“It was heartbreaking to see the hatred and harassment against Asia increase in recent years,” said Steel.
The remarks are in response not only to Tuesday’s shootings that targeted Asian-owned companies, but also to a sharp increase in violence against Asian-Americans over the past year.
There have been at least 3,795 physical and verbal anti-Asian incidents in the U.S. since March 2020, according to Stop AAPI Hate, an organization tracking anti-Asian sentiment.
Some observers link the rise in violence to the anti-Chinese rhetoric that has lingered throughout the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic is believed to originate in China, and some political leaders, including former President Donald Trump, referred to Covid-19 in derogatory language such as “kung flu” or “China virus”.
“That has been very insensitive to bringing all of these hateful comments and attacks and labeling the Asian-American community as the community responsible for what we are seeing … that is completely wrong,” Kim told State of the Union. “The words of the leaders have consequences. You have to be careful what they say because people really take it to heart. “
President Joe Biden spoke in Atlanta on Friday about supporting a COVID-19 hate crime law, a law written by Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) that will expand federal hate crime laws and accelerate the review of the Coronavirus-related hatred by federal government would require crime.
Steel passed a bipartisan resolution condemning hateful acts against Asian Americans, and on Sunday Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) highlighted the House’s bipartisan efforts on the matter, lamenting the fact that no Republican senators passed the law Have contributed to hate crimes. “Where can you be that you wouldn’t be ready to vote on a bill condemning violence against a group of Americans?” Asked Duckworth on Face the Nation.
It is still unclear whether the alleged gunman, who is now on eight murder charges, will also face hate crime charges, either in Georgia – where those charges would extend his sentence – or at the federal level. In order to be charged with a federal hate crime, the alleged shooter would have to have expressly articulated a racist or misogynist motivation. For example, by saying an arc.
Rep. Judy Chu, a Southern California Democrat, said she believed the attack was a hate crime.
“He went to those Asian spas specifically where it was clear in all three rooms that there would be a lot of Asian women,” she said.
Chu, the first Sino-American woman to be elected to Congress, admitted that clarifying the legal limit on defining the shootings as a hate crime, as people who heard the suspect express a motivation, “Spoke another language, may not have heard him, they could be dead. “
“But in my eyes, in the minds of many, this is an anti-Asian hate crime,” she said.
In the USA rallies took place to support those killed – and against the anti-Asian sentiment
Rallies were also held during the week to show solidarity with Asian Americans and to call for an end to bigotry and violence against people of Asian origin in cities across the United States.
During the week rallies were held in Minneapolis, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. Local leaders and officials spoke to crowds over the weekend.
Hundreds of people gathered in Atlanta, where the murders took place, on Saturday. Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff also spoke, as did Georgian MP Bee Nguyen, whom the Associated Press calls “the first Vietnamese American to serve at Georgia House.”
“This was an attack on the Asian community,” said Nguyen. “Let us join our community of allies in calling for justice not only for these victims, but for all victims of white supremacy.”
In San Francisco, where several attacks on residents of Asian origin took place, locals described their encounters with racist violence. Rallies also took place in Los Angeles County, San Diego and Oakland, including California – the state with the largest Asian-American population.
Korean-Canadian actress Sandra Oh spoke at a rally in Pittsburgh.
“One thing I know is that many of us in our church are very afraid, and I understand that. One way we can overcome our fears is to reach out to our churches,” Oh said.
A vigil was held in New York on Friday night and people marched from Times Square to Manhattan’s Chinatown on Saturday. On Sunday, community groups in different parts of the city organized a solidarity bike tour, vigil and rallies.
This activism has been fueled in part by reports of additional recent attacks on Asian New Yorkers. A man was attacked on a subway on Friday afternoon and a 66-year-old man was attacked on Saturday.