D.C. police are patrolling the homes and businesses of Asian Americans on Wednesday, a day after a shooter killed eight people, including six Asian women, at spas in the Atlanta area.
The Metropolitan Police Department has officers tasked with protecting members of the District’s Asian community, a spokeswoman said Wednesday. There have been no credible threats, but police ask residents to be vigilant.
The killings in Georgia follow a wave of anti-Asian crimes in the United States. The group Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ) has received reports of nearly 4,000 incidents in the past year. In one incident, a woman was mugged; in another, an elderly person was shoved to the ground.
“Our communities have long histories of grappling with both racism and sexism,” said Marita Etcubanez with AAAJ-AAJC. “We need for our communities to be safe and feel safe.”
At the Eden Center in Falls Church, Virginia, where a number of Asian-American-run businesses operate, Asian Americans said they have grown more afraid for their safety since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“I always feel like I have to look behind my back to make sure there’s no one following me or trying anything. I feel like my guard is a little bit up,” said medical student Karen Lo.
She and fellow student Nicole Ng said it was difficult to train on the front lines while trying to ignore some patients’ anti-Asian rhetoric.
“[We’re] still having the heart to take care of people who may not like you, who may think you’re a threat to their country,” Ng said.
In D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office is working to provide resources to Asian Americans. They held a discussion last year on mental health in light of a rise in discrimination.
“It’s equal parts heartbreaking and outrageous,” said Ben De Guzman, director of the Mayor’s Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs. Members of his own staff have been harassed in the street.
The group Total Liberation Collective will hold a vigil at 7 p.m. Wednesday beneath the Chinatown gate. They say they’ll stand in solidarity to bring hatred to a halt.
The group AAAJ holds free online trainings on bystander intervention and what to do if you witness hatred against Asian Americans. Go here for more information.