Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Georgia State Parliament building in Atlanta on March 20 to support the Asian-American community after the shooting killed eight people, of which six were Asian women.
Radical shootings at a spa in Atlanta over the past week come after a year of increased violence against Asians in America. The Asian-American community is blamed for causing COVID-19 — the virus first identified in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. The 21-year-old white suspect told them he had a sex addiction, and the attacks may not be racially motivated, authorities said. But after a year (since the outbreak) with reports of stigmatization and violence against Asian Americans skyrocketed, the March 16 shooting has aroused outrage, fear, and questions for the government in this community’s response.
Crowds wearing masks, waving American flags, and carrying posters reading “We Are Not Viruses,” “Stop Asian Hate,” and “Preventing Hostile Asians” stood in front of the Georgia Capitol on March 20. “I want to make sure that the world and people know I am here and I am,” said protest participant Sunghee Han from Georgia.
“We live here. We pay taxes. We work here. This is our life,” said Mr. Zheng, who has been in the U.S. for 10 years and lives in suburban Atlanta with his wife and two children. “This is a country of immigrants, all of the immigrants, so there is nothing we can do better than love each other than work together.”
“We have lived invisible and ignored in our country for over a century. We were violently attacked. This issue came to mind only when an old man in San Francisco had to die. People only started to care when six women died in Atlanta,” actor Will Lex Ham told the crowd of protesters. “Asians have been silent for too long, but times have changed,” Dong said, adding that he was “furious and disgust[ed]” at the shootings and protracted violence against Asians and people of other ethnic minorities, and in particular, women. “We must stop hate against Asian Americans in this country,” said Castro, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration. “For generations, Asian Americans have been discriminated against. I don’t have to tell that to anybody in this crowd.”
A video posted on Twitter shows two Georgia State Senators, Raphael Warnock, and Jon Ossof, leading the protesters’ line, taking a moment of silence with others to commemorate the victims. “Let’s build a state and a country where no one has to live in fear because of their origins or their families,” Senator Ossoff declared. “I just want to tell my Asian-American brothers and sisters that we see you, and more importantly, we will stand by you. We will all overcome this difficulty together,” Senator Warnock said in the resounding cheers of protesters.
The tragedy of March 16 aroused a movement to support Asians across America. The Asian American Leaders Table has created a list of relevant events across the United States, with some scheduled to occur this weekend or next month. Stop AAPI Hate — the national coalition to deal with anti-Asian discrimination during the pandemic — has recorded nearly 3,800 cases of discrimination against Asians between March 2020 and the end of February 2021 in the United States. These incidents include harassment, discrimination, and acts of violence.
Earlier, on March 19, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with leaders of the Asian-American community in Georgia to express their condolences and urge Americans to oppose this dissent. The number of attacks on Asians in the United States has increased rapidly to the point of becoming a notable phenomenon that is familiar to the black community.
Since last summer, banners with the words “Asian lives matter” appeared next to the banners that read “Black lives matter” and “Blacks are worth it,” associated with the mass protests and violence in America. Along with it are hashtags such as “I’m not a virus (corona)” that have spread on social media accounts. The shooting that killed eight people at once in Atlanta, including four Korean Americans and two other Asians, was a drop of water that fills a wave of smoldering anger by Asians who are typically gentle.
President Biden acknowledges that as a caller of “solidarity” among the American people who condemn tough police conduct (under the Trump administration) against black protesters, he cannot let the acts of violence happen towards the “Asian lives matter” movement. In Atlanta, President Biden asserted: “Hatred has no place in the heart of America. If the law can do many things, we should change our hearts as well.” This statement implies that President Biden urged Congress to pass a law on hate crimes related to the coronavirus introduced by two Asian parliamentarians earlier this month. The Hatred Crimes Act related to COVID-19 will promote the U.S. Department of Justice’s efforts to combat such conduct.
In his remarks to the Asian-American community, Mr. Biden said that whatever the perpetrator’s motives, we can still see for sure the following: “Asian Americans have been walking up and down the streets and worrying, waking up each morning the past year feeling their safety and the safety of their loved ones are at stake.” From there, he called on the American people to speak up against hatred and warning that “our silence is a kind of complicity” to racism.
To ensure their safety, many communities of Asian origin have to patrol and implement self-defense measures. Governments in major cities have also increased police patrols in populated Asian areas.