New York City mayoral hopeful Andrew Yang on Wednesday said that anti-Asian racism in the Big Apple is growing “far darker” — as he spoke out on the massacre of eight people, including six Asian women, at Atlanta-area spas in Georgia.
“I grew up Asian-American in New York and I was always accustomed to a certain level of bullying of racism, but it took a form of mockery of invisibility, of disdain, but that has metastasized to something far darker — you can feel it on the streets of New York,” he told reporters in Times Square.
“I’ve been walking the streets with my family and you can sense that the energy has changed, that now what started out as invisibility or a sense of foreignness has now become hatred, violence, assault, people feeling that we do not belong in our own country or in our own streets.”
Yang, the son of Taiwanese immigrants and one-time Democratic presidential candidate, called the attack in Atlanta “heartbreaking.”
“To see these six women’s lives snuffed out like this in such brutal and senseless fashion — it’s heartbreaking,” Yang told reporters. “Because if you think about these women, their lives, their hopes, their dreams, their children, their families will never see them again and why? Because of this senseless act of racially-fueled violence that has unfortunately become all too common in our country.”
“Make no mistake, these women were targeted on the basis of their race,” declared Yang.
Georgia police arrested 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long in the Tuesday shootings at three Atlanta-area massage parlors. He was charged with eight counts of murder.
Authorities said Wednesday they have not ruled out that the attacks were racially motivated — but Cherokee County sheriff’s spokesman Capt. Jay Baker said Long considers himself to have a “sex addiction” and saw the spas as “a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.”
The NYPD’s hate crime task force recorded 28 anti-Asian attacks last year amid the coronavirus pandemic — compared to two incidents in 2019, according to officials.
Amid the wave of targeted violence against the community in New York, Yang has called for more funding of the NYPD’s Asian Hate Crimes task force.
“We should be reaching out to communities in foreign language media and in different languages,” Yang said Wednesday, adding, “People can tell when you are investing in trying to reach them.”