Statement of Common Cause Pennsylvania Executive Director Khalif Ali
We are saddened and angered by the cruel and targeted shootings in Georgia on Tuesday. We grieve with the victims’ families and friends. We are in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander community here in Pennsylvania and across the nation.
Often these senseless crimes are intended to intimidate an entire community. It’s clear from the responses from throughout the country that this was a failed attempt. The Asian American and Pacific Islander community have a powerful and visible voice and they refuse to be intimidated.
Although the police haven’t officially determined a motive, it is clear that this wasn’t a chance or random shooting. And deferring to the claimed motives of the white, male gunman exhibits a racist double standard prevalent in law enforcement—another facet of white privilege in America. Whitewashing the motive doesn’t change the facts. The suspect drove miles from his home specifically searching for places that employed Asian American women. At each location he shot Asian women and was reportedly headed to Florida to continue this killing spree.
This heinous act of murder has all the characteristics of a hate crime, a crime of white supremacy, and a crime of misogyny. The methodical killings and number of deaths are shocking and cannot be ignored; they add to a horrifying upward trend of crimes against Asian Americans during 2020. The actions of our former president and his use of racist rhetoric blaming China for the spread of COVID-19 has allowed this fear and hate to flourish in our country. This hatred must be addressed and confronted by law enforcement, politicians and by everyday Americans like you and me.
We cannot turn the tide if we refuse to acknowledge this hate exists. The General Assembly must serve as an example to the rest of us. Our elected officials must listen to the shared experience of this community. Truly listen. We support Senator Nikil Saval, the first Asian American in the Pennsylvania Senate, who spoke yesterday to address the attacks and provide important context about the damning history of anti-Asian hate and violence in our country.
These tragic events must serve as a call to our leaders and ourselves to strengthen our commitment to democracy and to a nation and a commonwealth, where everyone – no matter their zip code, race, background, experience, or work – is treated equally and with dignity, humanity, and respect. Pennsylvanians can and must do better, lives depend on it.
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Senator Nikil Saval, the first Asian American in the Pennsylvania Senate, spoke about the shootings during Senate proceedings yesterday. The recording is here, starting at the 32-minute mark.