SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz have promised more visible and targeted patrols In the Chinatown-International District, after a rise in crimes targeting Asians locally and nationally.
Their announcement came Tuesday after the latest high-profile national incident —what police in Georgia are calling a deadly shooting spree that killed eight people at massage parlors in the Atlanta area, six of them women of Asian descent. One man was arrested in connection with the shootings.
Durkan and Diaz issued a joint statement, vowing increased outreach to the Asian American community and community-based organizations, as well as additional police patrols.
"Just this weekend after repeated incidents in our community, Seattle came together to stand against this hatred towards Asian Americans. Governor (Gary) Locke so clearly said ‘hate is a virus.’ And through our acts, we must each be the cure," the statement read.
National groups have reported a rise in hate crimes. About 4,000 in the past year, with many of them targeting older women.
Seattle, a city where nearly 16% of people identify as Asian or Pacific Islander, has not been immune to the issue.
King County alone prosecuted 59 hate crime cases against Asians in 2020, a sharp increase from 39 cases in 2019 and just shy of double the 30 cases in 2018.
Over the weekend, Asian Americans across Puget Sound took to the streets decrying the rise in hate crimes.
But on Wednesday, former Gov. Gary Locke told KING 5 that it will take more than just Asian Americans to change the tide.
"It's really great that you have so many groups all across the country, that are focused on civil rights and civil liberties, from the Anti-Defamation League to the NAACP, all coming out in solidarity, and support for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders," Locke said. "Quite frankly, all groups need to join together because victimization, harassment, discrimination, acts of violence against one group is really an attack and violence against every group."
But on Wednesday the Chinatown-International District neighborhood had a sign of strength and resolve. A new restaurant celebrated its opening with a traditional lion dance.
"We do the lion dance to bring prosperity and good luck to the community," said Royal Tan, the dancers' chief instructor.
It also brought some hope.
"During a tough time like this, a lot of places haven't been doing a lot of celebration," Tan said.
"We are standing strong for the Asian community, Chinese community, we're making the Chinatown alive right now," Tan said. "Events like this will show that we are standing strong."