Police patrols have appeared in areas of San Francisco with a large Asian population. “No one should live in fear of their origin or race”, said London Breed, the mayor of a city with 35% Asians. As in California, security has been tightened in Chinatowns in several American cities, from Chicago to New York. Objective: to reassure Americans of Asian origin, appalled by the March 16 shootings that left eight dead in three massage parlors in Atlanta (Georgia), including six women of Asian origin (including four of them from South Korea).
The killing was not officially classified as a racist act, but it reinforced the fears of a community tested for a year by an upsurge in anti-Chinese sentiment, thanks to the pandemic. Adding to a wave of assaults rekindling the long history of exclusion of Asians in the United States, the Atlanta murders have stirred up emotion across the country. “Asian Lives Matter” signs appeared in the windows – alongside the “Black Lives Matter” banners for the summer -, and “I am not a virus” messages on social networks [« Je ne suis pas un virus »].
President Joe Biden had the flags at half mast Thursday, March 18, on official buildings. In his first speech to the nation, after fifty days in the White House, he denounced the “Hate crimes” striking his compatriots from the Far East. It had moved the Asian community. He issued an executive order calling on public health officials to use neutral language in their publications on the virus.
After the Atlanta shooting, he again declared himself “Very concerned” over there “Brutality” to which Asian Americans have been victims for months. The White House announced that it had changed a planned trip to Georgia on Friday, as part of its stimulus promotion tour, to add a meeting with representatives of the AAPI community (for Asian American Pacific Islander, the Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander origin) in Atlanta. Mr. Biden did not blame his predecessor in the rise of anti-Chinese sentiment. But his spokesperson, Jen Psaki, ruled that Donald Trump’s rhetoric undoubtedly had “Increased threats” against the community.
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