Mar 18, 2021 - News
Atlanta shooting rattles Asian Minnesotans
Demonstrators ake part in a rally to raise awareness of anti-Asian violence n Los Angeles. Photo : Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images

Tuesday's mass shooting in the Atlanta area has members of Minnesota's Asian community on edge.

The big picture: The killing of eight people at three spas, six of whom were Asian women, remains under investigation. But it sparked fresh fears among many Asian Americans given a reported uptick in discrimination and violence in recent months.

  • The Stop AAPI Hate reporting center has documented nearly 3,800 self-reported cases of anti-Asian bias over the last year, including including 42 in Minnesota.
  • About 7% of COVID-19 related calls made to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights since April alleged anti-Asian bias and discrimination, a spokeswoman said. For context, about 5.3% of the state's population identifies as Asian or Pacific Islander.
  • Advocates say the figures might not capture the full scope of the problem, given fear that some may have of reporting incidents to authorities.

What they're saying: Community and political leaders across Minnesota condemned the attack — and the broader increase in racism.

  • "Racist language and attacks on Asian Americans have skyrocketed as a result of COVID-19 misinformation, and racial epithets spouted by our previous president," the six legislators in the Minnesota Asian Pacific Caucus said in a joint statement.
  • "We experience hate in many forms every day, leaving us with the fear of, 'will our community be next?'"
  • Leyen Trang, communications director for the St. Paul-based Asian American Organizing Project, echoed those sentiments, saying the group is "seeing reactions of horror and sadness in our community, but not surprise."
  • Minnesota GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan, who has spoken about her own experience with discrimination, said violence based on race is "despicable and must be broadly condemned."

The local response: The St. Paul Police Department said while it is not aware of any new or specific threats, the chief "has reached out to leaders in our Asian community to listen to concerns and offer support."

  • "Our patrol officers are making more trips in and around schools, businesses and neighborhoods where our Asian community members gather."

What you can do: Nancy Yang, an MPR News digital producer and national board representative for the Asian American Journalists Association, shared a powerful — and raw — call to action on Twitter:

"I'm sad. I'm tired. I'm heartbroken. I don't really know what else to say so I'll just say this: Take care of one another. Treat each other with kindness and respect. Call out racism. Be an active ally in ending hate. Stay safe."

If you experience or witness discrimination or bias, contact the Minnesota Department of Human Rights at 1-833-454-0148 or submit this online form.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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