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Georgia shooting stoking fears amongst some Asians in Iowa

Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 5:46 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -While police say it’s too soon to know if the Atlanta shootings are a hate crime, the fact six of the victims are Asian is stoking fears among Iowa’s Asian community. That’s after the COVID-19 Pandemic has fueled a rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans.

Advocates say rhetoric blaming China or Asia for COVID-19 has fueled a rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans. The Iowa Asian Alliance says that has left many scared to be in public. After the Georgia shooting, they are sending out forms to let people know about any racist behaviors.

“I believe all of this is rooted in racism,” said Amanda Lovan with the Iowa Asian Alliance. “The physical assaults and the recent killings, it needs to stop.”

The Iowa Asian Alliance highlights Asian Culture throughout the state. She says the Asian Community has been on edge since the beginning of the pandemic.

“The previous administration, it was referred to as the ‘Chinavirus’,” said Lovan. “A friend of mine was at a carwash vacuuming by her car, and somebody zoomed by and screamed a racial slur at her.”

Last year the Iowa Asian Alliance worked with The Human and Civil Rights Commission on a form people could fill out if they noticed any racism. They are bringing it back after the Georgia shooting. “We are currently re-updating the form,” said Lovan.

Shannon Harper, an Iowa State professor studying Asian hate crimes - says there appears to be an influx in hate crimes, but she notes some crimes are not being reported “Research tells us that Asians, Asian Americans or people of Asian descent don’t feel comfortable calling the police, and tend to not reach out to police,” said Harper. “They tend to rely on informal networks of support.”

Lovan says they will continue being that network of support. “People not only are scared to leave their house in fear for catching the Coronavirus,” said Lovan. “But they’re scared to be part of an attack.”

Here in Eastern Iowa, the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Police Departments say they have not seen an increase in Asian hate crimes, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t happening.

Alisanne Struck is the President of the University of Northern Iowa Asian Student Union. She says she’s had friends come up to her upset because a person made a derogatory comment about Asians and Covid-19. She spends a lot of her time on campus trying to educate people on not saying rhetoric people would think is racist. She says she can only do so much.

“Schools can teach as much as they see fit, and they think they should be teaching,” said Struck. “But the basis of that comes from home, and wherever home is for you.”

In a statement, leaders with the University of Northern Iowa said. “The University of Northern Iowa has no tolerance for racism on our campus and condemns any abhorrent remarks made against our students, faculty or staff in the strongest possible terms. Such language is completely unacceptable and runs counter to our community standards.

We take all such allegations seriously and encourage any member of the UNI community who has been subjected to them to file a report to the Office of Compliance and Equity Management in person, by phone, or online at safety.uni.edu. More information about reporting options can be found here: https://equity.uni.edu/

UNI works hard to ensure that all students, employees and guests feel welcome and at home on our campus.”

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