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Our Statement on the March 16 Hate Crime in Atlanta

On Tuesday, March 16, eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were killed in and around Atlanta, Georgia. MassVOTE Executive Director Cheryl Clyburn Crawford issued the following statement in light of these heinous developments.

“MassVOTE is sickened by what happened in Atlanta, and we stand in solidarity with all members of the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Make no mistake: what occurred in Atlanta was a hate crime targeted against the AAPI community. The fact that this attack occurred in such a purposeful, targeted manner makes that point impossible to ignore.

“It is horrifying to believe that this attack is one of more than 3,800 that have occurred against the AAPI community since the COVID19 pandemic began. In Boston alone, anti-Asian hate crimes more than doubled from 2019 to 2020. That rate is up 150% nation-wide.

“Yet this anti-AAPI sentiment is, tragically, nothing new in the history of our country. For well over 100 years, America has instituted hateful, harmful policies against the AAPI community. In 1882, for example, the country implemented the Chinese Exclusion Act, which suspended Chinese immigration for 10 years. The policy remained in place for more than 60 years. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which mandated the internment of any person, including US citizens, that were at least 1/16th Japanese. The policy impacted well over 100,000 people, virtually all of whom posed no threat whatsoever to the US.

“What happened on March 16 – and what’s happened over the past 12 months – is a grave, grave reminder that our country’s racist past against the AAPI community is by no means in the past. Listening to elected officials refer to COVID19 as the “China Virus” or “Kung Flu” is but a further reminder of this point.

“We must never accept this status quo. As advocates, it is our job to constantly challenge the status quo, especially when it so blatantly endangers the health and well-being of individual communities. And as democracy advocates specifically, it is our job to remind you why voting matters.

“One way we may confront this is by ensuring that voters turn out in mass numbers to elect officials that truly challenge hatred and offer substantive policy reform. Voters must turn out for all elections, not just for the presidential every four years. They must elect city councilors, mayoral, state legislators, congressional representatives, and senators. They must consider all candidates who aim to have an impact on their daily lives. They must also, frustratingly, overcome far too many barriers that make voting difficult.

“We must never forget the tragedy of March 16, and all of the anti-AAPI hate crimes that have occurred over the past year. Yet we must also recognize that, by educating and empowering individuals – providing them an outlet through which to have their voice heard in the ballot box – we move one step closer to eradicating this hate.”


MassVOTE is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization dedicated to voting rights, voter education, and social justice.

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