Local Asian rights advocates on alert after Atlanta shootings

PITTSBURGH — Local Asian rights advocates are telling older Asian Americans to not go to the store alone at night for fear they might be attacked. They’re also telling Asian women not to travel alone day or night, and they’re choosing to home-school to keep their kids safe.

“We live in fear right now. We understand the vulnerability, and that vulnerability has exposed us in ways that we don’t know how to protect our elderly,” said Marian Lien, president of OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates Pittsburgh Chapter.

On Tuesday, eight people, including six Asian women, were killed in shootings at three different spas in the area of Atlanta, Georgia. Authorities continue to investigate the motive behind the shootings, but Atlanta’s mayor said she supports hate crime charges against Robert Long, the 21-year-old suspect.

>>STORY: Atlanta spa shootings: Atlanta police file charges, suspect now faces 8 counts of murder

Lien said recent attacks against Asian Americans include a man stabbed in New York and two people assaulted in California. Here in Pennsylvania, Lien said she has reports of people harassed, spat on, pushed at grocery stores and a teen jumped. Pittsburgh Police officials said they haven’t received any reports.

“They’re afraid to report these things for fear of retribution,” Lien said.

“We’ve been seeing, especially during the pandemic, that crimes against Asian Americans have been increasing,” said Lorrie Cranor, director and Bosch Distinguished Professor in Security and Privacy Technologies in CMU’s CyLab.

Cranor said her school and Pitt are working on a new collaboration against hate. The center will be focused on research and action in trying to prevent extremist hate groups.

>>STORY: CMU and Pitt launch collaborative center dedicated to combating extremist hate