People of conscience must speak out and take action against hate
Editor’s note: Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director of the Coalition on Human Needs, issued the following statement Friday, March 19 in response to the Atlanta killings of 8 people, including 6 Asian women of Asian descent:
The Coalition on Human Needs stands with the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and with people of conscience throughout our nation in outrage and grief over the hateful killings of eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, in Atlanta.
We do not know everything about the mental state of the perpetrator, and urge a thorough investigation. This heinous act must be seen in the context of increasing acts of hatred against women and Asians. There has been a nearly 150 percent increase in the number of hate crimes against Asian American and Pacific Islander people in 2020, with close to 3,800 cases documented. We have seen high officials of government, prominently including the former president, and media personalities despicably exploit ignorance and hatred in the pandemic. Virulent rhetoric begets violence. This must stop.
As has been said over and over again in the aftermath of more precious lives lost to hate, thoughts and prayers are not enough. The nation needs vigorous prosecution of anti-hate crime law, which should be strengthened at the federal level. Legislation to limit gun violence is badly needed. Public figures must be held accountable for exploiting and fomenting bigotry. People of conscience must speak out and take action against hate. Just as public hate speech and discriminatory government actions can lead to violent acts, holding leaders accountable and stronger laws can reduce the threat of violence.
In standing with the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, the Coalition on Human Needs is co-sponsoring the DC Rally for Collective Safety, on Sunday, March 21, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. ET, in Washington DC’s McPherson Square (Facebook Event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/3745475435565938).