Several Asian American communities gathered for cultural Lunar New Year celebrations over the weekend, but most people didn’t expect it to be the last for their family members. A new massacre killed 10 people at a Los Angeles-area ballroom dance club, casting fear throughout Asian communities. The rise in racial attacks continues, and the only beacon of hope we can offer is the ongoing phrase to “Stop Asian Hate.” Read more about the growing racial tensions across the U.S.
Authorities found the suspected gunman, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound Sunday (Jan. 22) in the van that they say he used to flee after attempting to attack a second dance hall. Authorities searched for a motive for Tran, who reportedly killed 10 people at the Monterey Park ballroom dance club during Lunar New Year celebrations. The mayor of Monterey Park believes Tran may have frequented the first dance hall that he targeted, and the massacre may have been personal.
Despite their beliefs, this attack sent more fear throughout Asian American communities and darkness over the festivities being celebrated nationwide. The Monterey Park massacre was the nation’s fifth mass killing this month, and it hit one of California’s largest Lunar New Year celebrations.
Less than two weeks ago, one woman repeatedly stabbed an Indiana University college student of Asian descent unprovoked on a city bus. When she was asked why she did it, she told investigators she used a knife to stab the victim because she was Chinese, saying “It would be one less person to blow up our country.”
These two instances are added fuel to an impending fire on a community that has been the target of high-profile violence in recent years. The obvious rise of reported harassment and attacks against Asian Americans began during the Covid-19 pandemic. According to a study from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, first quarter of 2021 alone reported hate crimes against Asians in 16 of the nation’s largest cities and counties rose 164% over the prior year.
There are several examples of these horrendous hate crimes against Asian communities like the fatal 2021 shooting of eight people, mostly Asian women, at an Atlanta-area spa. Prosecutors are pursuing hate crime charges based on the victims’ sex and race. Two weeks ago, a New York City man pleaded guilty to manslaughter as a hate crime and agreed to serve 22 years in prison in the April 2021 assault of a Chinese-American man. Another man pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and got 20 years in prison for striking a Chinese woman in 2021 with a rock.
Similar to Black American communities, primarily White Americans are taking the United States “justice” system into their own hands. Most of these widespread attacks are happening completely unprovoked and based upon their personal views of each community.
In an unjust America where people are granted free speech, a right to carry, and only 20 years of time, hate crimes are growing at a rapid rate. These hate crimes have been ongoing for years throughout American history, but with the help of social media, more attacks are visible to the public. Still, what can we do to prevent these from happening.
Right now, all we can do is spread awareness. The simple slogan, “Stop Asian Hate” rose to prominence around the same time “Black Lives Matter” became more than a trendy hashtag. As we continue to spread awareness, more people from Asian American communities are realizing the significance of joining their local boards and working the system from the inside. Still, only a small percentage of National and local legislators represent Asian American communities.
Comment your thoughts and possible solutions to the growing hate crimes in America.