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Asian-Americans anxious but calling for change after Atlanta shootings

A demand for change from Asian-Americans across the country and in Southwest Florida after an attack rattled their community.

Six women were killed last week at two Atlanta-area massage parlors by a white gunman. So far, investigators have not said if the attacks were racially motivated.

But, many across the Asian-American community say targeted attacks have increased since the pandemic began. They are feeling frustrated and anxious following these most recent attacks.

The group Stop Asian American and Pacific Islander Hate says there have been almost 3,800 reported hate incidents in America since the pandemic began last March.

Ariana Parker is just one Asian-American person living in Southwest Florida.  She works at Leaf Asian Market in Fort Myers.

“Working at an Asian-owned business kind of like brings a bit of anxiety in here,” Parker said.

That anxiety started at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. She witnessed the hate and divisiveness against Asian-Americans. It happened at work.

“Things like ‘oh this is a Chinese place, so you better keep your mask on’ things like ‘oh this is from China let’s not buy that,'” she said.

Comments that frightened Parker and Pearl Cruz’s anxiety after the Atlanta spa shootings where six Asian women and two others were killed.

When Cruz and Parker heard about this, they thought about their own loved ones.

“Yeah, oh my goodness yeah the community is so small down here if anything were to happen, it really hits close to home,” he said.

“It did cause anxiety and that’s what I hear from other friends as well. I think that added more to the trauma because we started seeing that happen to us,” said Cruz.

Pearl Cruz is the President of the Asian Professional Association of Southwest Florida and says the hate starts from the top.

“Leaders of persons of authority seem to have a very strong influence to create such hatred or blame,” Cruz said.

Following the murders of Asian-Americans, Cruz was able to see parts of the Southwest Florida community step it up.

“Seeing the flag half-mast it really pulled your heartstring because it really felt like you belong. Even being a minority, it’s always felt like ‘ok do I belong?'” said Cruz.

“We appreciate what’s happening and the concern and the empathy on what’s happening and we are getting support from our friends and family, not only locally but also nationwide,” she said.

Pearl Cruz wants everyone to remember that we are all human.

“Thank you guys so much for really stepping outside of your comfort zones because that really helps us kinda look back at our past and be proud of it for once so when we have you to bring us out of that shell, we appreciate it,” she said.

WINK News reached out to Cape Coral Police and Lee and Collier County Sheriff’s Office. None have had reports of hate crimes against Asian-Americans in the past year.

In April, the Asian Professional Association plans to host a virtual discussion with FGCU about this topic. If you’re interested in joining the meeting, you can do so here.

Reporter:Nicole Gabe
Writer:Drew Hill
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