Indian American Lawmakers, Celebrities, Activists Condemn Killing of Asian Americans in Atlanta
- They have taken to the social media to express outrage and anger on rising hate-crime against the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A restaurant was spray-painted with the message “Kung flu” in Texas. A travel agency employee in California was nearly blinded. An 84-year-old man from Thailand died after being shoved to the ground during his morning walk. Many Asian Americans across the United States have been verbally harassed, spat on and injured for months in a “disgusting pattern of hate” that coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic.
And on March 16, a gunman’s crazed rampage through three massage parlors in the Atlanta area, killing eight people, including six women of Asian descent, has set off a new wave of fear and outrage among Asian- Americans, leaving many shaken. Authorities have taken the 21-year-old man responsible for the brazen shooting into custody on March 17, charging him with eight counts of murder in connection with the attacks.
This recent attack comes in a year of rising anti-Asian violence across the country that has been widely denounced. In wake of these attacks, President Biden, in sharp contrast from the rhetoric of the previous administration addressed the nation on the one- year anniversary of the COVID-19 shutdown, and took the opportunity to condemn the hate crimes against the AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) community, saying the community has “been attacked, harassed, blamed, and scapegoated. It’s wrong, it’s un-American, and it must stop.”
Vice President Kamala Devi Harris, who has previously spoken about the racism she and her family members in this country have faced, said the shootings have “frightened” all people. “(K)nowing the increasing level of hate crimes against our Asian American brothers and sisters, we also want to speak out in solidarity with them and acknowledge that none of us should ever be silent in the face of any form of hate,” she said during a bilateral meeting with Irish officials commemorating St. Patrick’s Day.
Her niece Meena Harris, called the attack “an act of misogynist terrorism” and “a crisis in this country. “Committing mass murder is not ‘having a bad day,’” she tweeted.
Outraged and saddened at this attack, many prominent Indian Americans took to Twitter to voice their hurt and anger.
Actress, comedian, writer, producer Mindy Kaling tweeted, “The targeting of our Asian brothers and sisters is sickening, but not surprising given the normalizing of anti-Asian hate speech in the past year.”
Author, activist, model and host of “Top Chef,” Padma Lakshmi took to Twitter to state, “Asians are not a monolith …. But a racist attack against one of us is an attack against all of us.”
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) condemned the attacks. In a statement he urged Americans to “come together to end this violence, the hateful rhetoric and harassment which have accompanied it, and the broader xenophobia and bigotry which laid its foundation.” Last week, Krihnamoorthi introduced the Hate Crimes Commission Act with Reps. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), and Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.) as co-leads. The bill would create a bipartisan commission to investigate and expand reporting on hate crimes throughout the United States.
His colleague, and ‘Samosa Caucus’ member, Rep. Pramila Jayapl (D-Wash.) joined the denouncers on social media by tweeting: “Vandalism like this, and the hateful message it represents, only begets further attacks. Stop the hate.”
New York State Sen. Kevin Thomas also joined in on the outpourings of anger. “Horrified and heartbroken by the news of yet another hate-fueled attack against the Asian American community. As New Yorkers, we stand in solidarity with the AAPI [Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders] community in condemning xenophobic rhetoric, racist acts, all anti-Asian hate crimes,” Thomas tweeted.
Joining him was New York State Sen. Jeremy Cooney. “As the husband to a Chinese woman and the only AAPI state-elected from Upstate NY — we need more leaders to publicly condemn anti-Asian hate and racism.”
Indian-Ugandan New York Assemblyman, Zohran Kwame Mamdani, son of writer-director Mira Nair, tweeted, “The horrific violence in Atlanta stems from an Anti-Asian racism that is as American as apple pie. To fight it, we must follow the lead of those who’ve been at the forefront of this battle for years.”
Reshma Patel, candidate for New York City Comptroller, in a Facebook post, wrote: “It is hard to vocalize a response. My heart is breaking.It is not enough to say #StopAsianHate. We need to call out racism before it festers into attacks. We need to fund the communities that have been experiencing this rise in hate. We need action now.
Texas lawyer and breakout star of Netflix’s “Indian Matchmaking,” Aparna Shewakramani, in a Facebook post, shared her feelings on the attack. Writing that she is “compelled to speak” about the shootings in Atlanta, she wrote: “Let’s remember this: ‘Asian’ is not a virus, racism is. A former president’s megaphone of racist slurs incited an astounding rise in violence against Asian Americans this past year and today, we reckon with the consequences.” She urged her followers to “stand up, in solidarity with the AAPI community, support local Asian-owned businesses,” and not stay silent.
Elk Grove, California Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen, in a Facebook post, wrote how as an Asian American immigrant, she has seen hate crimes her entire life. “The recent increase in violence against Asian Americans is unacceptable. We must stop the hate and strongly condemn these violent acts.”
Several Asian American and Indian American groups issued statements condemning the Atlanta attacks.
Annetta Seecharran, executive director of Chhaya, CDC said: “Enough is enough. We must stop this hate that is taking innocent lives in our communities. Adding that “this string of horrific shootings mount on top of the already high rates of anti-Asian hate crimes we have been witnessing over the last year, Seecharran said “this heinous violence has no place in our communities.” The group demanded that the government do more to stop anti-Asian hate crimes across our country. “We stand firm in our commitment to fight hate against all communities of color — in our neighborhoods and beyond.”
The South Asian American Policy & Research Institute urged the community to come together and work to stand in solidarity and stop AAPI hate and all hate crimes against people of color. “The desire to control women is rooted in misogyny and racial prejudice, which combine to fuel violence against immigrant women and women of color. Asian American women are too often portrayed as or expected to be submissive and treated as objects rather than human beings with agency, which has violent consequences that harm our communities,” executive director Shobhana J. Verma said. “As South Asians, this affects all of us and we must stand in solidarity and work to protect vulnerable members of our communities including immigrants, women, working-class individuals, and all those who are silenced.”
Hours before the shootings, Stop AAPI Hate had released its latest data on the number of firsthand complaints they’ve received. The report was part of an effort to renew their call for concrete action against the targeted bigotry and discrimination. Since March 19 last year, the group has received a total of 3,292 complaints from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. In the last two months, there were at least 503 anti-Asian hate incidents reported, the group said on their website. The majority of the incidents — about 68 percent — were cases of verbal harassment, while shunning or avoidance made up about 20.5 percent. About 11 percent of the incidents involved physical assaults, according to Stop AAPI Hate.
Anu Ghosh immigrated to the U.S. from India in 1999. Back in India she was a journalist for the Times of India in Pune for 8 years and a graduate from the Symbiosis Institute of Journalism and Communication. In the U.S., she obtained her Masters and PhD. in Communications from The Ohio State University. Go Buckeyes! She has been involved in education for the last 15 years, as a professor at Oglethorpe University and then Georgia State University. She currently teaches Special Education at Oak Grove Elementary. She is also a mom to two precocious girls ages 11 and 6.