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#StopAsianHate: what is happening to the Asian community in the US?

The Atlanta shootings are just part of the growing trend of violent attacks on Asian Americans, which have risen sharply since the start of the pandemic.

#StopAsianHate: what is happening to the Asian community in the US?
KEREM YUCEL AFP

The horrifying events in Atlanta, Georgia earlier this week were perhaps the starkest reminder yet of the growing trend of violence against Asian Americans. A lone gunman carried out targeted shooting in three Asian-owned spas around the city, leaving eight people, six of whom were Asian, dead.

Tragically this is just the latest violent attack against the Asian community with evidence suggesting a sharp rise in racially-aggravated incidents since the coronavirus pandemic took hold a year ago.

In response, the phrases #StopAAPIHate and #StopAsianHate have been circulating on Twitter with many Asian American celebrities speaking out against the violence. AAPI stands for ‘Asian American and Pacific Islander’.

Violence against Asians on the rise in the US

While the Atlanta attacks were particularly egregious, law enforcement officials have been warning about the increase in hate crimes against those of Asian descent since the start of the covid-19 outbreak.

The group Stop AAPI Hate said that it had received more than 2,800 reports of hate crimes against Asian Americans in 2020 alone, having set up a self-report tool shortly after the pandemic first took hold.

Upon publishing these findings, Russell Jeung, Professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University, said that: “These violent assaults have a devastating impact on our community as they are part of an alarming rise in anti-Asian American hate during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Towards the end of 2020 the United Nations carried out their own study into the trend of greater violence and concluded that there had been “an alarming level” of racially motivated violence against the Asian community in the US.

This reality has sparked a response from local law enforcement, many of whom have felt the need to increase protections in areas where large Asian communities live. In Oakland, California the local police department have increased the number of patrols in the city’s Chinatown and have even set up a new command post there.

Asian American celebrities call out the racially motivated attacks

The effects of these attacks has been felt by all members of the Asian community and celebrities have looked to publicise the incidents. In February actress Oliva Munn spoke to CNN about an attack on her friend's mother, who is Chinese, which took place outside a bakery in Queens, New York.

"The racist, verbal and physical assaults have left my community fearful to step outside," Munn wrote in an Instagram statement . "These hate crimes have spiked since Covid and continue to increase even though we ask for help, even though we ask our fellow Americans to be outraged for us, even though we ask for more mainstream media coverage."

Other Asian American stars like George Takei, Bowen Yang, Olivia Cheng, Jon M. Chu and Daniel Dae Kim have also spoken out about the attacks on the community.

Actor and producer Daniel Dae Kim has revealed that he now feels uncomfortable leaving his house amid the increased violence. In a recent interview he said: “I know plenty of Asian Americans who feel very unsafe today, including my parents.”