LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A community on heightened alert.
The Asian American Pacific Islander community is deeply concerned about the rising wave of violence motivated by the pandemic.
The Atlanta spa shootings are causing Las Vegas area AAPI leaders to take action and be proactive.
“It’s shocking but not surprising with the heightened anti-AAPI racism," said Eric Jeng with the Asian Community Development Council reacting with disgust at the Atlanta spa shootings Tuesday night that left eight people dead, six of them Asian women.
Jeng says the AAPI community has had to deal with prejudice related to the pandemic during the past year.
“It’s the racism," he said. "It’s the violence, both verbal violence, and physical violence.”
The online reporting center Stop AAPI Hate says it’s received 27 reports of COVID-19 related discrimination in Nevada with most in Las Vegas. The vast majority of them involving verbal incidents.
Helen Hsueh, a board member of the Asian American Group, says she doesn’t understand why the AAPI community would be targeted.
“We’re all Americans. We all immigrated. We’re all from different places,” she said.
Hsueh says Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has reached out to the group to host a meeting with Chinatown business owners about concerns over security and violence. She welcomes the gesture.
“They’re really concerned about our Asian community and they put more attention on it,” she said.
While the Atlanta shootings haven’t been officially declared a hate crime, AAPI leaders say the fact six of the victims were Asian underscores the violence that continues to hit the community hard.
That’s why Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom is pushing forward with a resolution to have the county condemn violence against the AAPI community nationwide.
“We all stand behind them and don’t be afraid to come forward. If you see something or hear something, or someone does something, let us know,” he said.
Jeng calls it the right first step.
“That is important to see our local and state leaders coming out strong against hatred. Against racism,” he said.
Hsueh says she believes building bridges between different people is key to breaking down any prejudice and welcomed anyone to Chinatown to meet and talk with business owners and workers there.
“They are friendly and honest. So, this is a good time to just walk around, and get to know each other,” she said.
The Clark County resolution condemning violence against the AAPI community will be voted on next month.