Several New York City mayoral candidates joined the Rev. Al Sharpton on Thursday to denounce violence against Asian Americans in the wake of this week’s shootings in Atlanta that killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent.
Sharpton said the rampage in Atlanta on Tuesday “has only made this even more necessary for us to take a strong, unequivocal and united stand against hate crimes against Asians.”
Several candidates for the Democratic primary to succeed the term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio alluded to an increase in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans over the past year in New York and across the country.
“I believe that the person who punched the Chinese restaurant worker for no other reason than his race, the person who shoved the middle-aged Asian woman to the ground brutally in Flushing, disfiguring her, the person who poured acid on the face of the elderly Asian woman in downtown Manhattan — I don’t believe that they saw their victims as human beings,” said Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate now running for mayor of the nation’s largest city.
Another mayoral candidate, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, said his message to “our Asian brothers and sisters” is: ”We have your back. When they come for you, we’re right there with you. We will never allow this kind of hate to permeate this city and this country.”
Twenty-one-year-old Robert Aaron Long was charged Wednesday with killing eight people at three Atlanta-area massage parlors. Long told police that Tuesday’s attack was not racially motivated and claimed to have a “sex addiction,” but those statements have met with widespread skepticism given that six of the victims were women of Asian descent.
“We in the Asian American community are angry, frustrated and heartbroken at the senseless violence that took the lives of eight people in Georgia and the fear that is keeping our own Asian American community from going to work, go grocery shopping, sending our kids to school, and now, most importantly, getting vaccinated,” Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the Asian American Federation, said at the news conference at Sharpton’s Harlem headquarters.
Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said her group “stands in solidarity with the Asian American Pacific Islander community and to condemn the bigotry and violence that has caused unthinkable pain and trauma and fear in the AAPI community in New York and Atlanta nationwide.”