By: SEAN HANRAHAN
(Links may contain graphic content.)
On March 16, 2021, a series of shootings took place in the Atlanta region resulting in nine people shot and eight of which killed. Six of the victims were women of Asian descent. Robert Aaron Long was arrested and he has since confessed to his crimes. He has been charged with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assult but denies that the attacks were racially motivated. It was later proven that Long was a sex addict that targeted only Asian sex workers. A Georgia’s sheriff captain was under fire for claiming that long was “having a bad day” beforehand and the shooting was a result of which.
Although the shootings in Georgia were not because of Asian hate, according to Stop AAPI Hate, there has been 3,795 reported “hate incidents” against Asian Americans since March 2020, which was a 150% increase in major cities since 2019. Reports included but were not limited to verbal harassment (68.1%), shunning (20.5%), physical assault (11.1%), civil rights violations (8.5%), and online harassment (6.8%). (AAPI). These incidents were supposedly provoked due to the spread of the COVID-19 disease which originally came from mainland China.
Most of these events (about 45 percent) occured in the state of California, especially around San Francisco. In the Bay Area, an 84-year-old Thai man, Vicha Ratanapakdee, was killed in a seemingly unprovoked attack in San Francisco at the end of January. Several Asian elders were assaulted in Oakland’s Chinatown in February. And last week, a 75-year-old man from Hong Kong died in Oakland after being robbed and assaulted by a man police said had a history of victimizing elderly Asian people. On February 23, a 67-year-old man was attacked by three people inside a laundromat. He was dragged to the ground and was robbed of several hundred dollars.
Even after the shootings and the outrage at similar events, attacks against Asian Americans continue to happen. Just a day after, a 75-year-old Chinese woman was attacked in, once again, San Francisco while waiting at a crosswalk. She was able to fight back with a stick, leaving her attacker battered and bloody. A witness took a video after the attack, showing the man being taken into an ambulance on a stretcher while the woman crying and yelling “Why did you hit me?” in Chinese and holding a bag of ice to her swollen face.
“They know Chinese people, they know on Stockton Street, the old senior citizens, they know they can’t fight back,” said a shop owner. “Right now, I’ve started to realize this: nothing is fair,” she said. “You just have to defend yourself. All Chinese people, they just have to get together and do something.”
Due to the rampant attacks against Asian Americans, especially in the San Francisco area, the Asian community is feeling afraid and unsafe.
“It’s so stupid,” Betty Louie, the adviser to the San Francisco Chinatown Merchants Association, said. “I’m able-bodied. I’m OK, I’m safe. But I’m afraid to go and do my afternoon walk. I don’t feel safe anywhere at this point.”
Local residents of the Asian community were not to blame for the coronavirus pandemic, yet elderly men and women are being attacked and killed on the streets without being provoked. These attacks have left people afraid to leave their homes. All of the victims agree that the discrimination and hate against Asian Americans has been too unregcognized and it is just now starting to make headline news. As a nation, we need to come together and support all communities, whether they be Asian, Black, or any race. No matter who or what is at fault, there is no excuse for hate crimes such as these in today’s society.