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Colorado responds to surge in crimes against Asian Americans

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Credit: PBS NewsHour

Rocky Mountain Public Media stands in solidarity with our Asian and Asian American community. Recent studies have shown a rise of 150% in hate crimes against Asians and Asian Americans since 2020. The horrific murders in Georgia and other acts of violence across the country reflect this appalling reality. We stand against all forms of hate, racism and sexism. We will continue to use our platform to work with our communities to create a better world where all feel safe.

DENVER — Following three Atlanta-area attacks that left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent, Coloradans are speaking out against the wave of crimes targeting Asian Americans across the country.

In a statement, Violence Free Colorado said, "we know that sending love is not enough - that we must keep working to end gun violence, hate crimes, gender-based violence, and racism in ourselves and our society."

On March 18, Governor Polis ordered flags lowered to half-staff to honor the victims of the shooting.

“The crimes and actions being committed against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are terrifying,” Polis said in a statement. “The latest series of murders in Georgia reflect a surge of violent attacks being committed against Asian Americans. It is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

“My heart goes out to the families of those who were murdered in what appears to be a targeted hate crime,” Sen. John Hickenlooper (D) tweeted. “Recently there's been an astronomical increase in violence towards AAPI individuals across the country. We must condemn white supremacy & #StopAsianHate.”

Sen. Michael Bennet (D) added, “We have a responsibility to stand up against hate in all its forms.”

Representatives Jason Crow and Joe Neguse, both democrats, also shared messages of support to the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. No republican members of Colorado’s congressional delegation have posted about the shootings.

The suspected shooter in the Georgia attacks confessed to the crime and has been charged with murder. 

Investigators say they have not ruled out racism or other biases as a motive for the shooting; the suspect told law enforcement officials he had frequented the spas in the past. The New York Times reported “the gunman told the police that he had a “sexual addiction” and had carried out the shootings at the massage parlors to eliminate his “temptation.”

“Whatever the motivation was for this guy, we know that the majority of the victims were Asian,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said during a press conference. “We also know that this is an issue that is happening across the country. It is unacceptable, it is hateful and it has to stop.”

PBS NewsHour reports that hate crimes against Asian Americans in major U.S. cities surged by nearly 150 percent in 2020, even as the number of overall hate crimes declined.

From NewsHour:

Since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, there has been a marked uptick in hate crimes against Asian American communities in the United States. Several studies point to the connection between hateful rhetoric and increased hate-motivated actions, and advocates and experts point to the way Trump spoke about the virus as a direct contributor to the increased crime. But under the new administration, the hate incidents have continued, prompting leaders and advocates to actively call for coalition building and better incident tracking.

Donald Trump as president repeatedly used racist language when discussing COVID-19. 

The true number of attacks may be even higher. "There are far more people who have not reported incidents than those who have," Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles CEO Connie Chung Joe said in an interview with NPR.

In Denver, Mayor Michael Hancock said “bias-motivated crimes will not be tolerated” in the city.

DPS board member Tay Anderson shared information for a candlelight vigil and “night of remembrance” scheduled for Saturday, March 20 at 6 p.m.

The event is scheduled to take place at the southeast corner of 20th St and Blake St. That location is home to a commemorative plaque that remembers Denver's Chinatown, which was severely damaged in an 1880 race riot during which a Chinese immigrant was hanged. That riot, combined with the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act a couple years later, led to the end of Denver's Chinatown.

140 years after the Denver Chinatown Riot, on October 31, 2020, Mayor Michael B. Hancock offered a proclamation declaring the anniversary as “Denver’s Chinatown Commemoration Day.”

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