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Statement in Support of the Asian American Pacific Islander Community

Diana Autin, Executive Director
March 18, 2021

On Tuesday evening eight people were killed at three separate shootings in spas in North Georgia. Six of those killed were Asian and all but one were women.

We stand in grief and solidarity with the entire Asian American community, which is already reeling from a dramatic increase in brutal attacks and racist hate speech over the last year.

Whatever the shooter’s determined motives, these events took place under the trauma of increasing violence against Asian Americans nationwide, fueled by systemic racism. While anti-Asian violence is woven throughout our nation’s history, the relentless and unfounded scapegoating of Asians for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has increased the prevalence of hate and violence perpetrated against Asian Americans across the country. According to the most recent data, hate incidents targeting Asian Americans rose by nearly 150% in 2020, with Asian American women twice as likely to be targeted. There were 47 race-based incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in New Jersey from mid-March through December 31, 2020, the eighth most of any state, according to the advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate.

There are over 940,000 Asian Americans in our state, more than 10% of our population, according to Jersey Promise, an Asian American advocacy organization. During this time of crisis for the Asian American Pacific Islander community, we support Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta’s call for local and Georgia state government to provide robust and responsive crisis intervention resources, including in-language support for mental health, legal, employment, and immigration services. We ask our own local and New Jersey state political and community leaders to publicly join us in support of Asian American communities in our state and call for an end to anti-Asian violence. And we join the call of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus for the US Justice Department to step up its efforts to prevent and address all violence, including racist violence, and for Congress to pass legislation to both combat the increase in attacks and make it easier to report such crimes.

It has never been more critical to band together when vulnerable community members are targeted, and we urge all New Jersey residents to speak up, take action, and create change to prevent racist violence against Asian Americans and all communities of color throughout our state and nation.