DC-area police, leaders express support for Asian American communities after Georgia shootings

Following the shootings in the Atlanta area that killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent, additional precautions are being taken in the D.C. area.

Widespread offers of condolences to Asian communities and condemnation of hate and bigotry have been expressed across the U.S. Police in Georgia said they do not believe the shootings were racially motivated.

“Regardless of the hate crime determination, that was a hateful, violent act,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

D.C. police are not aware of any credible threats to members of the Asian community, according to an email from D.C. police spokeswoman Alaina Gertz; but she said officers “will pay special attention with an increased presence around Asian-owned establishments and residences.”

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine also put out a statement in support of the Asian community.

“Like many of you, I’m horrified by yesterday’s attack in Atlanta,” Racine said. “While the motive for these attacks is still unknown, this shines a spotlight on the rise of hate against the Asian community, women, and Asian women in particular.”

Fairfax County, Virginia, also condemned the shootings with statements from Fairfax County police and Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay saying that they stand with the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in the county and in Georgia.

Montgomery County, Maryland, Executive Mark Elrich said officers will be available, reaching out and talking with leaders in Asian communities to let them know the county stands with them.

“We’re going to make sure they’re safe. And we’re aware of the increased pressure they’re under, and we’re just not going to wait for an incident to happen before we decide it’s time to reach out,” Elrich said, while noting that’s already an ongoing effort.

There are nearly 60,000 residents in Howard County who identify as Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Howard County takes pride as one of the most diverse and inclusive communities across the nation. Our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community members have persevered through prejudice and exploitation, all while playing a vital role in our growth, culture, and society,” Executive Calvin Ball said in a statement.

“We all have a responsibility to ensure that all our residents feel safe, respected and treated with the dignity that we all deserve. The County’s vision of community is a constant work in progress, which is why workgroups like the AAPI Workgroup were founded,” Ball said.

In a statement on behalf of the Howard County AAPI Workgroup that was launched last month, Maryland State Sen. Clarence Lam identified himself as Asian American and said all forms of hate are unacceptable and should not be tolerated by any member of the community.

“We must listen to the voices of the most vulnerable in our community. This is why it is vital that we highlight and advocate for the issues facing the AAPI community and why I remain steadfast in championing state policies and provisions to reduce and eliminate biases and hate. We must continue the conversations to uplift and unite our community, so we may create a more inclusive county, state, and nation,” Lam said.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam noted in a statement that there’s been a disturbing rise in inflammatory and xenophobic rhetoric, harassment and violence against Asian American communities since the start of the pandemic.

“We will continue to ensure that Virginia is a place where all people are welcome and our diversity is celebrated. We stand in solidarity with members of the Asian American community and those facing discrimination, hate incidents, fear, and intimidation. We must do everything in our power to make their safety a priority and to stand against all forms of injustice,” Northam said.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan put out a statement expressing his grief and support for the Asian community.

“We are horrified by the appalling violence committed in Georgia, and extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims. This is an unspeakable tragedy, and the latest in a series of attacks against Asian Americans,” Hogan said. “Violence and bigotry have no place in our society.”

Hogan’s wife, Yumi Hogan, is Korean-American, and he told CNN earlier this week that his family has felt the effects of discrimination over the past year amid a wave of racism against Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.

Among multiple area police departments offering condolences and support and requesting vigilance — Anne Arundel County police also tweeted an appeal for people to reach out if they need emotional support. You can reach the Anne Arundel County “warmline” at 410-768-5522.

WTOP’S Thomas Robertson, Kate Ryan and Zeke Hartner contributed to this report.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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