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Monday, April 15, 2024

Remember the Atlanta spa shooting

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Jongwon Lee

By Jongwon Lee
The author is an attorney.


March 16 marks the third anniversary of the Atlanta spa shooting. On March 16, 2021, a young white man in his 20s went on a shooting spree through spas in the metro Atlanta area, killing eight people. Six of the dead were Asian women, and four of the six Asian victims were Korean. The attack, which was clearly targeted at Asians, outraged not only the Korean-American community but the entire country. There were many calls to combat hate crimes against Asians.

But three years later, the Atlanta spa shooting hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. The voices of help and support are gone. Some say it’s a thing of the past. Some say that with the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes against Asians have stopped.

But nothing has changed. Statistics show that in the first year of the pandemic in 2020, the number of violent incidents against Asians in the United States skyrocketed 339% from the previous year. Considering that many incidents went unreported to police during this time, the number is likely much higher.

Imagine for a moment that you were racially harassed by someone on the street or social media. You wonder what you should do: should you fight back, run away, or call 911 right away? But then all sorts of thoughts start running through your head: I don’t speak English fluently, I’m in the process of getting my green card, and I don’t want to get entangled with the police.











In the end, there is no one to fight for you. You have to be your own advocate.
“In the past few years, the Asian community has been experiencing collective trauma, with the Atlanta spa shooting, the Indianapolis shooting, the Monterey Park shooting, and the Half Moon Bay shooting,” explains Connie Chung Joe, president of the Asian American Advancing Justice Southern California (AJSOCAL). “We need to address these issues before another tragedy occurs.” John Yang, president of the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), notes that “the impact of Asian hate crimes is largely underreported.”

Some organizations are stepping up to help stop Asian hate crimes. We thought you might like to know about them.

Recently, the Asian American Advancing Justice Center (AAJC) and the Asian American Advancing Justice Southern California (AJSOCAL) partnered with Microsoft to launch asianresourcehub.org, a hate crime response website. The website is available in multiple languages, including Korean, and provides tips for dealing with hate crimes and emergency contact information. It also provides links to online resources for reporting hate crimes.

It also lists local organizations that can help. For example, if you enter the zip code for the Koreatown area of Los Angeles, you’ll find contacts for AJSOCAL, the Korean American Coalition (KAC), the Koreatown Youth & Community Center (KYCC), and AAPI Equity. In the Atlanta area, you can also enter your zip code and find addresses and contact information for the Asian American Advancing Justice-Atlanta (AAJA) in Norcross and Raksha in Midtown. The website also combines data from hate crimes reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and local police to produce statistics on hate crimes against Asians in LA and Atlanta.

On March 16, “Stand Together!” vigils will be held across the country to mark the third anniversary of the Atlanta spa shooting. It would be meaningful to participate in an event in your area. In Atlanta, a vigil for the victims will be held at the Atlanta Korean American Center at 5 p.m. on March 16.

It’s important for Koreans to remember the unfortunate history of hate crimes against Asians and come together to make sure it never happens again. Nothing will change immediately, but one step at a time is the way to change America.