INDIANAPOLIS — A few days after a local organization called on the community and local leaders to join them in the fight against anti-Asian violence, three shooting sprees at Atlanta-area spas killed eight people. Six of the victims were Asian women.
"We mourn with the families of these victims. We are horrified and continue to be concerned for the safety of our community members across the country as violence toward Asian Americans has escalated," a statement from the Indiana Chapter of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) read.
Although, Atlanta officials report that the suspect, Robert Aaron Long, said the shootings were not racially motivated and were instead because of his "addiction to sex."
NAPAWF along with many other people across the country however see it as another hate crime against Asian Americans.
"We must call this moment in Georgia what it truly is: white supremacy, anti-Asian racism, sexism, and sexual violence against Asian American women," the NAPAWF's local chapter stated.
The term "China virus" was often used by former president Donald Trump and is believed to be the sentiment that has resulted in a rise in hate crimes geared at Asian Americans.
According to a study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, hate crimes increased 150% against people in the Asian community in 2020.
It was just days before the deadly incident in Georgia that the Indiana Chapter of NAPAWF called on Gov. Eric Holcomb, R-Indiana, to address the rise in anti-Asian harassment and violence occurring across the state and country.
Several state institutions, groups, senators, representatives, and City-County councilors have signed the petition in support of NAPAWF. The list includes Indiana University, Butler University, Faith in Indiana, Sen. J.D. Ford, Sen. Fady Qaddoura, and more.
“We are proud to support the NAPAWF’s petition,” James Wimbush, IU’s vice president for diversity, equity, and multicultural affairs, said. “Asian American’s have faced increased levels of discrimination as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I am proud to join others in requesting the protections and preventative measures to ensure their safety.”
Now signed by 2,000 Hoosiers, the organization is calling on Governor Holcomb to do three things:
- Publicly recognize and condemn these acts of hate.
- Implement procedures and programs to support AAPI communities, without escalating law enforcement.
- Establish a statewide advisory committee for AAPIs.
It's three steps that, according to NAPAWF, are direly needed across the Hoosier state. Incidents of racist harassment and violence toward Asian Americans have been documented in four separate accounts this year, including in Martinsville and Mooresville.
NAPAWF Indiana Co-Chair, Shruti Rana, issued the following statement regarding Governor Holcomb's need for public address:
“As we reach the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, all Hoosiers have suffered losses, and we are ready to think about how we can join together to build a better future. One of the most devastating effects of the pandemic has been the dramatic spike in discrimination, bigotry, and violence towards AAPI Hoosiers, part of a nation-wide trend. We know that children have been bullied at school, and families going outdoors and employees going to work have faced hostility, verbal abuse, and violence. Although thousands of such incidents have been reported nation-wide, we also know that these reports are only the tip of the iceberg as most are not reported or addressed. We also know that strong leadership, committed to uniting and respecting all of our communities, can make a tremendous difference. We urge Gov. Holcomb and our state's leadership to take action now to condemn anti-Asian hate and support all Hoosiers in addressing the causes and consequences of anti-AAPI bigotry and violence.”
In 2019, Governor Holcomb did sign a hate crimes bill into law after being criticized by the Anti-Defamation League.
The bill does not explicitly cover age, sex or gender identity. Instead, the bill refers to Indiana's reporting statute that mentions color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion and sexual orientation.
After the bill was signed, reports later found that hate crimes in Indiana had indeed increased the year prior.