Eight people were killed in a shooting that took place across three Atlanta spas. Six of the victims were identified as Asian American women, which has led to increased fear among the Asian American population.
The number of hate crimes against Asian Americans has increased since March 2020, according to the organization Stop AAPI Hate.
A 21-year-old man was charged with eight counts of murder in connection with the attacks. Police have not ruled out race as a motive according to the New York Times.
The Times also reported that following the shootings, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said, “Whatever the motivation was for this guy, we know that the majority of the victims were Asian.
“We also know that this is an issue that is happening across the country. It is unacceptable, it is hateful and it has to stop,” she said.
The Atlanta shootings are just one example of a pattern of hate crimes against Asian Americans that have been reported since March 2020.
According to the organization Stop AAPI Hate, 3,795 hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been reported between March 19, 2021 and Feb. 28.
The organization, which stands for Stop Asian American and Pacific Islander Hate, was founded to address “anti-Asian dis- crimination amid the pandemic."
“This latest attack will only exacerbate the fear and pain that the Asian American community continues to endure,” the organization said in a statement about the shootings.
“Not enough has been done to protect Asian Americans from heightened levels of hate, discrimination and violence. Concrete action must be taken now. Anything else is unacceptable," it continued.
Rachel Miyazaki, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, is half-Japanese and said she has not experienced any racism or hate for being Asian American because she is “white passing.”
“Most people don't even know that I'm Asian American, unless I tell them,” Miyazaki said, but she added that many of her Asian American friends and family members have been victims of racism and hate.
“One of my best friends from high school is adopted from China but hasn't been there since she was 2. Someone asked her if she was Chinese and then told her in a string of expletives to get out of the country,” Miyazaki said.
She said that the shootings in the Atlanta spas have made her even more fearful for her Asian American family and friends’ safety.
“A lot of my friends’ parents work in those kinds of spas, and to think that that can happen anywhere and their parents or people that they love could be hurt definitely makes me a little more scared that they could be targeted just because of the way they look,” she said.
Miyazaki said that she believes much of the rise in Asian American violence is due to misinformation about COVID-19.
“I think it would be really dense to not say that it has something to do with the way that this virus has affected all of our lives,” Miyazaki said, adding that former President Trump’s rhetoric helped add to the misinformation by calling it the “China virus.”
“I mean, there were people who wouldn't help my dad at Lowe's when he was looking for parts to fix a shower head because they thought that he would have the virus because he’s Asian,” Miyazaki said.
“Those kinds of things are definitely on the rise and they were not things that I've really heard about from people in my family and people that I’m close to until this coronavirus thing started,” she said.
Miyazaki said while the shootings in Atlanta were a horrible tragedy, she hopes that it will spark conversations about stopping Asian American violence.
“I hope that it will force people to become more informed and to know how to not group Asian people all under one category and to understand where those biases come from and where the misinformation is coming from, especially in relation to COVID.”