In-Depth: Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair (CAPAC) Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) introduced this resolution to condemn the Atlanta, Georgia shootings which left eight people, including six women of Asian descent, dead. In a press release, Rep. Chu said:
“The horrific murders in Georgia this month, which claimed eight lives, six of whom were Asian women, shocked our nation. This was a hate crime, plain and simple. The murderer sought out and targeted Asian owned businesses and specifically, Asian women who are some of our most vulnerable. This mass shooting brought attention to the plague of anti-Asian violence. But this violence has long predated the murders in Georgia. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Asian Americans have reported over 3,800 hate crimes and incidents inspired by misinformation and xenophobic slurs like ‘Chinese virus’ and ‘Kung flu.’ That is why it is so important that all leaders speak out to reject bigotry and violence. “I’m grateful for the support from so many colleagues. Together, we can stop Asian hate.”
Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), sponsor of this bicameral resolution’s Senate companion, added:
“We must stand against AAPI hate and violence, full stop. I join my colleagues in the Senate and the House in mourning the lives lost in the recent horrific shooting in Atlanta, and condemning the irresponsible and cruel anti-Asian sentiments related to the COVID-19 pandemic that have caused a spike in anti-Asian violence. Let me be clear: hate, including hate that hurts and kills members of the Asian-American community, has no place in Georgia—or anywhere in our country.”
In a March 18, 2021 House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on the rise of violence and discrimination against Asian-Americans, committee Republicans and their witnesses argued that the spike in crimes against Asian-Americans is part of a surge in violence in cities in general during the pandemic. In his opening remarks at the hearing, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) criticized the Chinese Communist Party’s handling of COVID-19 and expressed concerns that the hearing would be used to “venture into the policing of rhetoric in a free society, free speech, and away from the rule of law and taking out bad guys.”
This resolution has 116 Democratic House cosponsors. Its Senate version, sponsored by Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock, has 34 Senate cosponsors, including 33 Democrats and one Independent.
Of Note: On the evening of March 16, 2021, 22-year-old Robert Aaron Long went on a shooting spree at three massage businesses in and around Atlanta, Georgia. Long killed four people at Young’s Asian Massage in Cherokee County; three women at Gold Spa in Atlanta; and another woman at Aromatherapy Spa, across the street from Gold Spa. In total, Long killed eight people, six of whom were women of Asian descent.
On May 11, 2021, Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis called Long’s crimes racially-motivated hate crimes and indicated her plans to seek the death penalty against him. In a news conference, Willis said she had reviewed Long’s statements to investigators and believed that seeking the death penalty and hate crime enhancements was appropriate. Additionally, grand jurors in Fulton County indicted Long on one count of domestic terrorism, saying that he had intended to “intimidate the civilian population” of Georgia through his actions.
Stop AAPI Hate reported 3,795 incidents of anti-Asian hate from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021. In its report, Stop AAPI Hate reported incidents of verbal harassment (68.1% of incidents), shunning (20.5% of incidents), physical assault (11.1% of incidents), civil rights violations (85.% of incidents) such as workplace discrimination and refusal of service, and online harassment (6.8% of incidents).
According to another report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, hate crimes against Asian people rose by 149% in the 16 largest U.S. cities. The sharpest increase was in New York City, where there were 28 hate crimes in 2020 versus three hate crimes in 2019. The initial spike in anti-Asian crimes occurred in March and April 2020, coinciding with a rise in COVID-19 cases and ongoing negative associations of Asian-Americans with the COVID-19 virus.
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Dwight Nadig)