Deadly Atlanta area shootings bring more anxiety to Boston’s Asian community

BOSTON — The killings of six Asian women at spas in the Atlanta area have added more fear and anxiety to a community that’s already on edge.

Business owners, residents and some leaders in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood told Boston 25 News that people of Asian descent have been dealing with a surge in hates crimes since the pandemic began.

The man charged in the Georgia murders, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, told investigators that the killings were not racially motivated.

The police chief in Atlanta said a determination has not yet been made about whether it was a hate crime.

“There has been so much hate that’s happening, and it’s so often,” said one woman, who didn’t want to be identified. “More people are beginning to realize that Asian hate crime is a huge thing.”

Some blame former President Trump for bringing a new wave of anti-Asian bias by labeling coronavirus the “China virus”.

“The rhetoric coming out of the Trump administration heightened a sense of fear and lack of safety,” said Carolyn Chou, Executive Director of the Asian American Resource Workshop. “Asian Americans have been seen as a perpetual foreigner.”

According to a new report from the national coalition Stop AAPI Hate, Asian Americans reported nearly 3,800 hate-related incidents in all 50 states since the start of the pandemic.

A recent study from California State University at San Bernardino showed a nationwide increase in anti-Asian American incidents by about 150 percent since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and 133 percent in Boston.

“The Asian American community, we’re still trying to wrap our heads around what we should do,” said Sam Hyun, Chairman of the Massachusetts Asian American Commission.

Hyun believes happened in Atlanta is yet another example of festering racism.

He said it’s time for the entire country to address the anti-Asian sentiment that’s been brewing beneath the surface.

“We need to name it for exactly what it is. It is a hate crime,” said Hyun. “We need to stop tip toeing around it. Racism is racism. We should be brave and honest about the reality of this country.”

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