Statement of Common Cause Georgia Executive Director Aunna Dennis
Our hearts today are with the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, particularly here in Georgia. We know that this type of crime is often intended to intimidate an entire community. Asian women in Georgia have a very powerful and visible voice — and we cannot allow it to be silenced. We stand with our Asian American neighbors who are grieving.
What happened yesterday is sickening.
Someone drove miles from his home, in an area that has a relatively small Asian American population. He drove from municipality to municipality; he searched out places that employ Asian American women; and he went from one place to another to another, shooting Asian American women. When he was caught, he was reportedly headed to Florida to continue his killing spree.
It’s extremely clear from the circumstances that he was hunting, looking for Asian American women to kill.
This certainly has all the characteristics of a hate crime, a crime of white supremacy and misogyny. The numbers are shocking and should not be ignored. Hate crimes against Asian Americans have happened throughout our country’s history; but they skyrocketed during 2020, as then-President Trump blamed China for COVID. A disproportionate number of recent hate crimes have been committed against Asian American women — almost twice as many, as compared to men. Recent polling shows that nearly half of AAPI women have been affected by Anti-Asian racism in the past two years.
Using some other narrative to excuse this killing spree does a grave disservice to all victims of hate, and all people who fear becoming victims of hate.
Just last year, Georgia finally passed a Hate Crimes Law. That law — so long delayed — now needs to be enforced. Georgia should not be a place where hate is institutionalized, where motives are camouflaged by law enforcement officials, where the truth remains unsaid.
The facts here are clear to anyone who is willing to look.
Georgians should not have to live in fear of being targeted, hunted down and killed because of ethnicity, gender, or both.
As a country, we have grieved over the death of George Floyd. We have grieved over the killings at the Tree of Life Synagogue. We have grieved over the Pulse Nightclub shootings. We have grieved over the loss of life at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
Yesterday’s killing spree was just as clearly motivated by hate — hate that should have no place in Georgia or in our politics.
Whitewashing the motive keeps us mired in the hate. It’s time to call it out, for what it is; and it’s time to end it.
Statement of Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn
The horrific murders in Georgia targeting Asian American women are tragedies that leave families and communities reeling, angry, and afraid in Georgia and far beyond. The victims were targeted and hunted and their murders must be prosecuted as hate crimes. Asian American and Pacific Islander communities nationwide have suffered from a huge spike in hate crimes – increasing 149% – since former President Trump’s incendiary and racist rhetoric blaming China for the spread of COVID-19, targeting Muslims and Asian countries with travel bans, and stoking white supremacist violence.
Racism, white supremacy, and hate crimes flourished during an era when overt racism and dog whistles drove many White House policy initiatives, press conferences, and campaign rallies. The same hatred fueled the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, racially motivated shootings from coast-to-coast, and the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead and scores with serious injuries. This hatred leaves too many Americans to live in fear for their own safety as they go about their daily lives. This hatred must be confronted and stopped, by law enforcement, which too often reveals its own implicit biases, by the courts, by politicians, and by all of us as Americans.
This ugly chapter in our history calls out for action. We need strong legislation that strengthens hate-crime reporting and better support for victims of hate crimes, as well as community members who live in fear, isolation and feel victimized by these vicious incidents.
Tragedies like yesterday must serve as a call to our leaders as well as each of us to redouble our efforts to make our nation one where every American – regardless of their zip code, race or background – is treated equally.