Local Leaders Condemn Violence Against Asian Americans

Mar 17, 2021, 11:48 PM

Mourners visit and leave flowers at the site of two shootings at spas across the street from one an...

Mourners visit and leave flowers at the site of two shootings at spas across the street from one another, in memorial for the lives lost, on March 17, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. Suspect Robert Aaron Long, 21, was arrested after a series of shootings at three Atlanta-area spas left eight people dead on Tuesday night, including six Asian women. (Photo by Megan Varner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Megan Varner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Millions of people across the country are joining the social movement condemning violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

This comes after eight people were killed in three shootings at Atlanta-area spas Tuesday.

While police said the suspect claims the attacks were not racially motivated and he has a “sex addiction” and was looking to eliminate temptations, local leaders and lawmakers condemned the violence.

“We haven’t seen hate crimes against Asian Americans here in Utah since May of 2020, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any,” said House Minority Whip Karen Kwan, D-Murray.

Kwan said the Georgia massage parlor shootings are being felt across the country, and they are triggering for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Acts of violence against targeted groups, whether it be these shootings or the mass shooting of a Black church in North Carolina, can be triggering for marginalized communities.

“I feel very strongly that we make sure that our communities know we are working together. We are here together and will protect one another,” Kwan said.

According to Stop AAPI Hate, 3,800 anti-Asian racist incidents were reported last year, mainly against women since the start of the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic originated in China, and the reported xenophobia against Asians intensified.

“Racism is inherent in our structures. We live in racialized hierarchies. Is it present? Yes,” said Mary Ann Villarreal, vice president for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the University of Utah.

She said the United States has a pattern of blaming groups of people for problems that can be seen throughout the country’s history.

“It repeats itself,” Villarreal said. “It takes a different form in a different moment, but it repeats itself.”

She said violent attacks on groups can trigger memories or fears for other marginalized communities.

“It brings that back right to the front that you know we are not safe in this country to live free — so that is the trauma communities, and I can only imagine what the Asian community, are trying to figure out — how do they keep themselves safe?” Villareal said.

She added it’s on us to change to denounce racism and break the cycle.

“We are seeing it everywhere,” Villarreal said. “We are taking responsibility in responding, but it has to be multipronged.”

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Local Leaders Condemn Violence Against Asian Americans