BY ANDREA GONZALEZ
CHRONICLE STAFF WRITER
According to the Center for Hate and Extremism last updated March 2, 2021, since the pandemic began Asian American hate incidents in Orange county have risen 1,200%.
On March 17, a gunman shot dead 8 people, 6 of whom were Asian women, in various massage spas in Atlanta. Police have already arrested 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, according to a news story in The New York Times.
Although Long said the shooting had nothing to do with race, rather he had a “sexual addiction” and the shooting acted as a way to eliminate the feeling, the police have not ruled out racial motivation for the cause of this crime according to the report in The New York Times. However, many people believe that this crime was in fact racially motivated.
Locally, the current rise in hate crimes towards Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in Orange County follows months of anti-China rhetoric made from former President Trump over the coronavirus, having called it “the Chinese virus” while in office.
According to Stop AAPI Hate, created during the COVID-19 pandemic in response to the surging anti-Asian rhetoric and hate incidents, there have been a total of 2,583 of anti-Asian incidents reported nationwide in 2020, while the Orange County Human Relations Commission reported 40 hate crime cases the same year.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer joined Asian American officials to speak out about the spike in hate crimes towards Asian Americans in Orange County during a press conference outside of a beauty school in Garden Grove late February of this year.
“We are aggressively pursuing and will prosecute those who have engaged in hate crimes.” Stated Spitzer. “We are unequivocal, we are unapologetic, and we are aggressive.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, words can easily become actions. We must ensure that racial threats and violence are treated no less seriously than any other kind of assault,” stated Andrew Do, Orange County Supervisor.
In January, President Biden signed an executive order with new justice department guidance on how to report anti-Asian hate crimes. In addition, President Biden includes how the U.S government has been a part of the problem, but what can be done to help solve the growing issue.
In a recent email sent out to faculty and students March 18, President JoAnna Schilling empathizes with the AAPI community highlighting how many hate crimes have been committed since the beginning of the pandemic, and what Cypress College will do to address the issue.
“We are all horrified by these acts of violence against our AAPI community,” stated Schilling. “On Monday, we will discuss the impact of our work during our Conversation About Racial Equity with Dr. Frank Harris III. “
Students attending Cypress College, a school in Orange County, are concerned about the hate crimes towards AAPI.
Cheneley Chunadi, a student majoring in dental hygiene stated, “Not only does it make me furious, but it also makes me feel sad and scared for other Asian Americans who are at risk of being targeted.”
She added, “Being Asian myself, it makes me worry for my elders because people have no remorse.”
“I fear that my friends will one day be a victim of these attacks for simply being Asian,” said biology major Jessica Sanchez. “Nobody deserves to live in fear of being brutally attacked or even killed.”
The Orange County Human Relations Department and the Orange County District Attorney’s office have asked those individuals who witness hate crimes or are victims of hate crimes to report them.
For more ways to help the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in Orange County, you can visit the Orange County Human Relations website or Stop AAPI Hate. On both websites, you will be able to find reports and statements, where to donate, and how to report a hate crime.
This story was updated to include comments from Cypress College President Joanna Schilling on the recent shooting.