Apr 2, 2021 - News

A man vandalized an Asian-owned store at the transit center. The owners’ family pleads for the hate to end

Plaza Sundries Transit Center

Photo:Paige Hopkins/Axios

Plaza Sundries, an Asian-owned convenience store at the transit center, is always buzzing with customers looking for snacks and last-minute essentials, day and night. This week the store and its owners were attacked.

Why it matters: The Plaza Sundries incident is the most recent to take place in Charlotte after an uptick in crimes nationwide against members of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

  • From March 19, 2020 to Feb. 28, 2021, Stop AAPI Hate received 32 reports of anti-Asian hate incidents in North Carolina — nine from Charlotte, specifically — the organization told us Friday.

Driving the news: A man shouting racial slurs and “That’s what you get! That’s what you get!” took a metal rod to the soda machines and snack shelves at the store, according to a post from the store owner’s daughter-in-law. The incident prompted a plea from the family to stop hate crimes against Asian small businesses.

“They just woke up and went to work — like every other day,” Grace Sung says in a GoFundMe post. “What exactly was it they ‘did’ to deserve this? They work 13-15 hours a day, 7 days a week. They work every single day, even on Christmas. They say holidays are when people need them to be open most.”

What’s happening: G4S, the firm that provides security for CATS properties, arrested 24-year-old Xavier Rashee Woody-Silas on Tuesday. He’s been charged with a felony (robbery with a dangerous weapon) and several misdemeanors (resisting public officer, injury to personal property, disorderly conduct and communicating threats).

  • According to CATS, police are pursuing a potential charge of Misdemeanor Ethnic Intimidation (under North Carolina’s hate crimes statute), based on alleged statements made to the store clerk.
  • The transit system released a statement on Friday saying in part: “CATS strongly condemns any act of racism or violence and will continue to prioritize the safety of everyone.”
Asian hate crime, Anti asian hate, Plaza Sundries Transit Center, Charlotte, CMPD, G4S
A look inside Plaza Sundries. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

Zoom out: The rampage, caught in a minute-long YouTube video, occurred in the heart of Uptown, just days after a rally to end anti-Asian hate crimes took place just blocks away. There’ve been nationwide calls to stop these crimes since the Atlanta spa shootings last month.

  • Racism toward Asians rose in the past year as people blamed Asian Americans for the coronavirus, which was first detected in China, Axios has reported.
  • Overall, hate crimes in the U.S. reached their highest level in more than a decade in 2020, the AP reported.

Yes but: Locally the numbers are much murkier. North Carolina is one of 17 states to have some form of hate crime legislation but no requirement for data collection. Activists and other publications have called the state’s legislation toothless and “paltry,” we reported recently.

In Charlotte, crimes with at least one Asian victim actually dropped by about 11% in 2020 from 2019, according to CMPD data sent to Axios Charlotte after a public records request. 

  • But when CMPD looked closer at the last year since the pandemic started, it showed about a 5% increase in the number of Asian victims in the most recent six months.
  • The most common crimes were larcenies and non-aggravated assaults.

CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings recently sent a hate crimes report to city leaders that showed a drop in cases in the last four years. Axios Charlotte obtained the stats, which show that in 2017 CMPD received 32 reported hate crimes; in 2020, it was down to 18.

  • Of those 18, nine were against Black people, five against LGBTQ community members, three against white people, and one was classified as “anti-OtherRace/Ethnicity/Ancestry.”
  • That one report, obviously, differs from the nine reported to Stop AAPI.

A handful of lawmakers, including Sen. Mujtaba Mohammed of Charlotte, introduced a Hate Crimes Prevention Act to the legislature that would establish a statewide database for crimes similar to the one that occurred at the convenience store Uptown.


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