While the suspect – a white man’s motive – is not yet clear, many have linked the rise in crimes against Asian Americans during the pandemic to the deaths of the women he allegedly killed.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice noted that many of the “victims are Asians and question whether this is related to recent hate crimes and assaults against Asian Americans,” although there is “much to learn” tonight about the Georgia shootings .
“We have heavy hearts tonight as we mourn eight people who lost their lives in a senseless act of violence,” the organization wrote on Twitter.
An analysis published by the Center for Hate and Extremism Research at California State University in San Bernardino, which examined statistics from the United States Police Department, found that the number of anti-Asian hate crimes has increased significantly over the past year in numerous large cities.
The study looked at hate crimes in 16 of America’s largest cities and found that those crimes decreased by 7 percent in 2020, while crimes committed against Asian Americans increased by nearly 150 percent. In Boston, hate crimes rose from six in 2019 to 14 crimes reported in 2020, an increase of 133 percent, according to analysis.
In New York, NYPD deputy chief Martine Materasso said the department had deployed Critical Response Command units in Asian communities.
“While there is no known association with #NYC, out of great caution we will be providing assets to our large Asian communities across the city,” Materasso wrote on Twitter.
Late on Tuesday evening, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp spoke about the tragedies and expressed his condolences to those affected.
“Our whole family prays for the victims of this terrible violence,” wrote Kemp on Twitter.
Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock said his heart was “broken tonight after the tragic violence in Atlanta that killed eight people.”
“Once again we see that hate kills,” Warnock wrote on Twitter. “Pray for the families of the victims and for peace for the community.”
My heart is broken tonight after the tragic violence in Atlanta that cost eight lives. Once again we see that hatred is deadly. Pray for the families of the victims and for peace for the community.
– Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (@ReverendWarnock) March 17, 2021
Some were quick to see the role former President Donald Trump might have played in instigating anti-Asian sentiments. At the start of the pandemic – and not until Tuesday night during a television interview on Fox News – Trump used racist language directed against Asian Americans and the Chinese community.
He has described the coronavirus as “China virus” and “kung flu”, racist slurs that quickly became a rallying cry for his followers.
President Biden acknowledged the violence against Asian Americans less than a week ago and said, “It is wrong. It’s un-American. And it has to stop. “
Still, many Asian Americans shared that racism, whether overt or in the form of microaggression, had been present throughout their lives. And others online said America’s history and politics have long pointed to racial injustices towards the community.
Activist Timothy Phan wrote on Twitter: “If your automatic response to anti-Asian violence in #atlanta blames Donald Trump today, you haven’t done enough to process the history of anti-Asian xenophobia in this country’s miserable history of working class immigrants the color. “
This was a painful time for my community, along with the deportation of the Viet refugees earlier today. Let us mourn and heal together in solidarity and community. My heart goes out to everyone affected by this unnecessary violence in America.
– Timothy Phan (@timothy_phan) March 17, 2021
Alton Wang, a Young Women Candidate at the University of California Law School, Los Angeles, said his “always cautious father” always accused him as an adult of being alert and vigilant about those around him – a “critical reminder now.”
“It is no coincidence that the Sagittarius targeted Asian women,” wrote Wang on Twitter. “Misogynist racism against Asian women shows up not only on platforms like Twitter, but also in history. The roots of our broken racist immigration system began with the Page Act banning Chinese women from entering the country.”
My always cautious father always reprimanded me whenever I went out to make sure I was 「眼看 四方 耳聽 八方」, which literally means “eyes look four directions and ears hear eight directions” or that you always do should be alert and vigilant. Critical reminder now.
– Alton Wang (@altonwang) March 17, 2021
It is no accident that Sagittarius targeted Asian women. Misogynist racism against Asian women shows up not only on platforms like Twitter, but also in history – the roots of our broken racist immigration system began with the Page Act banning Chinese women from entering the country.
– Alton Wang (@altonwang) March 17, 2021
Imani Perry, Hughes Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, said she teaches a class on racial legal history.
Throughout the course, Perry said, she always taught her students about Asian-American history, “because without the history of Asian Americans, one cannot teach a serious history of US law as an instrument of racial injustice.”
“And today, the patterns of racial violence based on the notion that Asian Americans are ‘non-affiliated’ are directly tied to that story,” Perry wrote on Twitter. “I deeply hope that we can understand the current horror of racial violence against Asian Americans as the product of a shameful story that must be addressed directly.”
And today, the patterns of racial violence based on the notion that Asian Americans “don’t belong” are directly tied to this story.
– Imani Perry (@imaniperry) March 17, 2021
Nguyễn Anh Thư of OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates said her mother, aunts, and herself were “in a constant state of tension throughout this pandemic.”
“That is more than frightening. Now not only do they risk infection when they work in the nail salon, but also fatal violence, ”she wrote on Twitter. “I know these aesthetes – you know them too.”
But she said, “I can’t trust agencies that embody white supremacy to protect my family.”
But I can’t trust agencies that epitomize white supremacy to protect my family. I don’t trust any agencies that say they denounce anti-Asian rhetoric when facing a public audience and turning around to deport my people the next day.
– “THU WIN” (@thudawin) March 17, 2021
Claire Tran, who will join the Washington Post as social media editor, said the events in Atlanta – for her and many of her friends – were a reminder of their youth and the concerns they had for their parents back then.
“I just want to send love to everyone who – like me and many friends – grew up in our parents’ nail salon or restaurant or are nervously waiting for them to come home from a night shift in a supermarket,” Tran wrote on Twitter.
“The worry,” she said, “never goes away.”
After that, my father worked night shifts in convenience stores for a few years and met many nightmare customers. Fortunately, nothing physical ever happened to him. My heart rate was definitely higher for 4 years
– Claire Tran (@clairevtran) March 17, 2021
Shannon Larson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @ shannonlarson98.