The New York Police Department has deployed officers to Asian communities around the city after eight people, many of them women of Asian descent, were killed in shootings at three massage parlours in Atlanta.
The NYPD’s counter terrorism bureau separately tweeted that while there was no known nexus to New York City, they will deploy assets to Asian communities across the city “out of an abundance of caution.”
Atlanta police chief Rodney Bryant said three people were killed at a spa in northeast Atlanta, while a fourth person was killed at another spa across the street. All four victims were female, and that “it appears that they may be Asian,” he said.
Four other people, including two Asian women, were killed at a massage parlour in nearby Cherokee County, Sheriff’s officials were quoted as saying by The Washington Post.
A 21-year-old man suspected of carrying out the attacks has been arrested in southwest Georgia.
The shootings came amid a rise in attacks against Asians after the Covid-19 outbreak in the US.
Stop AAPI Hate, formed in 2020 to prevent anti-Asian discrimination during the coronavirus pandemic, called the Atlanta shootings “an unspeakable tragedy” for the families of the victims and also for the AAPI community, which it said has “been reeling from high levels of racist attacks.”
Anti-Asian hate crime in 16 of America’s largest cities increased 149 per cent in 2020, while overall hate crimes fell by 7 per cent, a study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, found.
Based on police department statistics, the report found that the first spike occurred in March and April during a rise in Covid-19 cases.
The report is limited to crimes reported to local police departments, according to CBS News. It said that “hate incidents,” which are defined by the Department of Justice as acts of prejudice that aren’t crimes, are also on the rise.