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Local leaders speak out to condemn anti-Asian violence, hate crimes

Rally and march at Hing Hay Park in Seattle’s Chinatown/International District in Seattle, WA on March 13, 2021. (Rod Mar)

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz are condemning the violence at three Atlanta-area spas Tuesday and the recent rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans.

Hundreds gather at Seattle park to protest attacks on Asian Americans

The two city leaders released a statement, reading in part: “Just this weekend after repeated incidents in our community, Seattle came together to stand against this hatred towards Asian Americans. Governor Locke so clearly said ‘hate is a virus.’ And through our acts, we must each be the cure.”

The Associated Press reports that a white gunman was charged Wednesday with killing eight people, most of them women of Asian descent, at three Atlanta-area massage parlors in an attack that sent terror through the Asian American community that’s increasingly been targeted during the coronavirus pandemic.

Robert Aaron Long, 21, told police that the attack was not racially motivated and claimed to have a “sex addiction,” with authorities saying he apparently lashed out at what he saw as sources of temptation. Six of the victims were identified as Asian and seven were women.

In Seattle, two churches were targeted this week with anti-Asian vandalism. Earlier this month, a woman walking through the Chinatown-International District was attacked by a man wielding a sock filled with rocks. Police are still trying to determine if that incident was a hate crime.

“The violence in Atlanta was an act of hate,” Durkan and Diaz’s joint statement reads. “We grieve with Atlanta and for the victims and their families.”

“We also stand together with our Asian American community against the rise of hate crimes toward Asian Americans, which especially target Chinese Americans. In Seattle and across our nation, our Asian American neighbors, places of worship, and businesses have been deliberately targeted by racism, xenophobia, and acts of violence related to misconceptions of COVID-19.”

Seattle police ‘committed’ to investigating all anti-Asian hate crimes

The Seattle Police Department is increasing outreach to the Asian American community and community based organizations, as well as an additional presence by police patrols and Community Service Officers. SPD encourages anyone who feels unsafe or witnesses suspicious activity to call 911.

During her speech on the Senate floor on an unrelated issue Wednesday, Senator Patty Murray also addressed the killings in Atlanta and condemned the violence.

“Everyone — especially elected officials — needs to not just speak out but to act against this deadly display of hate,” Murray said.

Governor Jay Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers have also spoken out through statements of their own to condemn the violence.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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