Gov. Northam, Asian-American groups release statements on violence after Georgia shootings

Updated: Mar. 17, 2021 at 1:31 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Tuesday night’s shooting at Atlanta-area massage parlors sent shockwaves through communities across the country. The attack does come at a time when violence against Asian-Americans is on the upswing.

“Innocent people don’t deserve to get killed, and these are all innocent people,” said Mahmoud Chowdhury, the Chair of the Asian American Society of Central Virginia.

“What does he have in his heart to commit it? How did he get influenced? Where’d the hate from in his heart? If he has a heart, I don’t think he has a heart,” he added.

Chowdhury and the rest of his nonprofit were left in shock. While Atlanta officials say that race may not be the motive for the shootings, attacks are still on the rise.

“Not only women, men are getting harassed verbally in the Richmond area,” Chowdhury said, “These are just atrocious. Just no acceptable by any standard.”

AASOCV says that phrases like “Wuhan virus” becoming more commonplace only encourages violence.

“I was concerned when I started reading about these cases in the West Coast and the East Coast,” said AASOCV Vice-Chair Julie Laghi.

Back in January, an 84-year-old Asian man was attacked on the streets of San Francisco and died days later.

His death prompted rallies calling for an end to violence against Asian elders.

In New York City, another man was beaten near a subway stop earlier in early March. That attack leaving him bruised and with a black eye.

But the AASOCV is determined to be proactive, and they say they looking out for their own before our area also becomes a headline.

“We will definitely reach out to a few of the Asian-owned spa’s here to hear their concerns,” said Laghi.

Chowdhury adds that the group will also reach out to local lawmakers and law enforcement to possibly step up protections for Asian-owned businesses.

Gov. Ralph Northam released a statement on the violence against Asian-Americans after shootings in Atlanta killed 8 people on March 16.

Officials say a white man accused of killing eight people, most of whom were of Asian descent, at massage parlors in the Atlanta area told police the attack was not racially motivated and that he potentially had a “sex addiction.”

Still, authorities said they were investigating whether the deaths were hate crimes amid concerns over a wave of attacks on Asian Americans.

Six of the victims were identified as Asian and seven were women.

Gov. Northam released the following statement:

“We are grieving with the Asian American community and all of the victims of the horrific shootings in Atlanta last night that took eight lives, six of whom were women of Asian descent. This is the latest in a series of heinous attacks against Asian Americans across this nation, but sadly these are not isolated events. Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen a disturbing rise in inflammatory and xenophobic rhetoric, harassment, and violence against Asian American communities.

“Hate and bigotry have no place in our Commonwealth or country. We all have a responsibility to condemn these racist acts and make clear that this is not who we are as Virginians, or as Americans.

“We will continue to ensure that Virginia is a place where all people are welcome and our diversity is celebrated. We stand in solidarity with members of the Asian American community and those facing discrimination, hate incidents, fear, and intimidation. We must do everything in our power to make their safety a priority and to stand against all forms of injustice.”

OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates also sent the following statement to NBC12:

Asian Pacific American Advocates deeply mourns the victims of the shootings that occurred on Tuesday evening in Atlanta, GA.

At the time of release, eight people were reported dead as a result of three shootings that occured within a few hours. Six of the eight victims were identified as Asian women.

This is one of the more violent tragedies in a string of about 3,800 hate incidents against Asian Americans, 68% of them women, and Pacific Islanders since March 2020.

“While the details of the shootings are unknown at this moment, it is clear that these individuals were targeted because they are among the most vulnerable in our country: immigrant Asian women,” said Linda Ng, National President of OCA. “Our community has been living in fear of verbal and physical attacks, and now we’re experiencing increasingly deadly tragedies of racism and violence. We call on Georgia officials to ensure the families of the victims are well supported, and for our followers to support local efforts that provide community protection and victim support. On behalf of OCA, we send our deepest condolences to the friends and families of tonight’s victims.”

“My mother, aunts, and I have been in a steady state of tension this entire pandemic,” said Thu Nguyen, Director of OCA and manicurist at a nail salon in Houston, TX. “This is beyond terrifying. We’re fearful of our lives in circumstances where we would otherwise feel safe — in our homes and at our jobs. Now, not only are we risking infection when going to work at the nail salon, we risk deadly targeted violence. It is not lost on me that the identified shooter is a white man; we must understand as a product of systematized and institutional racism.”

OCA calls for solidarity against hate and for action from elected officials to provide support to the AAPI community.

The attack was the sixth mass killing this year in the U.S., and the deadliest since the August 2019 Dayton killing that took the lives of nine people, according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.

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