AUSTIN (KXAN) — Tuesday night’s fatal shooting of six Asian Americans in several Atlanta-area spas and businesses has shed light on the rise in anti-Asian sentiment in recent years — particularly throughout the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the shooter has so far told police the killings were not racially motivated, six of eight victims being Asian left many to question that response.
While support for the victims poured out immediately, so too, did calls for Americans to pay attention to boiling tensions against Asian Americans — which some believe were stoked by former President Donald Trump, his administration and some within the Republican Party.
Trump referred to COVID-19 throughout his tenure as president as the “China Virus” the “Wuhan coronavirus” and similar names, appearing to blame Asian countries for the disease even as many warned about the impact and potential for a rise in hate crimes.
President Joe Biden spoke out Wednesday:
“Whatever the motivation here, I know Asian Americans, they are very concerned, because as you know I have been speaking about the brutality against Asian Americans, and it’s troubling.”President Joe Biden
Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris commented: “We don’t yet know — we’re not yet clear — about the motive. But I do want to say to our Asian American community that we stand with you and understand how this has frightened and shocked and outraged.”
Chosun Ilbo, a top South Korean newspaper, reported Wednesday that the shooter reportedly yelled, “I’m going to kill all Asians!” They cited a surviving witness.
From March 19, 2020 to Feb. 28, 2021, there were almost 3,800 reported hate incidents against Asian Americans nationwide, according to Stop AAPI Hate, which the center says is only a fraction of incidents that actually occur.
The top forms of discrimination were verbal harassment and shunning (deliberate avoidance). Physical assault was the third largest category with 11.1% reported having experienced it. One respondent said she was shouted at by store workers, who said, “You Chinese bring the virus here and you dare ask people to keep social distance guidelines!”
Chinese Americans reported receiving the most amounts of hate, with 42.2% saying they have experienced it. Korean, Vietnamese and Filipino followed.
California, New York, Washington and Texas claimed the most instances of hate.
On Wednesday, former president Barack Obama said the attacks underscore “an alarming rise in anti-Asian violence that must end.”
On Twitter, the conversation about a possible racial motivation by a white shooter continued throughout Wednesday.