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March 17, 2021 2:30 pm
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US Jewish Groups Condemn Surging Hate Crimes Against Asian American Community Following Deadly Shootings in Atlanta

avatar by Ben Cohen

Atlanta police officers outside on of the spas attacked by a gunman on March 16, 2021. Photo: Reuters/Chris Aluka Berry.

US Jewish organizations on Wednesday mourned the eight victims — among them six Asian women — who were shot dead at three different spas in Atlanta on Tuesday evening in what many observers feared was a hate crime.

Georgia resident Robert Aaron Long, 21, is being held in connection with the shootings by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office. While police say they have not yet discovered the motive behind Tuesday’s spree, it came amid a dramatic spike in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans.

In a post on Twitter, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) urged supporters to unite against “AAPI Hate” — an acronym for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

“We are horrified and heartbroken by the loss of life in Atlanta. Our thoughts are with the victims, their families and the entire #AAPI and Atlanta community. As we wait on motive, now is the time to unite in solidarity and use your voice to #StopAAPIHate,” the ADL stated.

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In a separate statement, the Orthodox Union (OU) demanded: “These attacks must stop.”

“Americans of all faiths and ethnicities must join together to do everything we can to put an end to hate and help our neighbors, especially as we work together to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic,” the OU said. “The Orthodox Union extends our prayers and sympathy to the families of the victims of these attacks and we stand in solidarity with the AAPI community.”

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) similarly urged a show of solidarity with Asian-American communities around the country.

“We are horrified by the shooting spree in Atlanta, which has left eight people — including six Asian American women — dead,” the AJC tweeted. “As hate crimes targeting Asian Americans surge across America, we stand in solidarity with our friends and partners in the Asian American community.”

Data collected over the last year has shown a worrying rise in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans, often involving verbal abuse or physical violence. One key reason for the increase concerns the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic in China, with assailants frequently invoking this fact as justification for their racist actions.

According to a report from California State University’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism published earlier this month, there were 122 incidents of anti-Asian American hate crimes in 16 of the country’s most populous cities in 2020 — a rise of 150 percent on the previous year.

Stop AAPI Hate, an activist group, separately recorded almost 4,000 incidents involving hate towards Asians in the period from March 19, 2020 to Feb. 28, 2021.

“Chinese are the largest ethnic group (42.2%) that report experiencing hate, followed by Koreans (14.8%), Vietnamese (8.5%), and Filipinos (7.9%),” Stop AAPI Hate reported.

“The number of hate incidents reported to our center represent only a fraction of the number of hate incidents that actually occur, but it does show how vulnerable Asian Americans are to discrimination, and the types of discrimination they face,” the group commented.

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