PHILADELPHIA - Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw on Wednesday said her department is investigating "several incidents of hateful and racist vandalism in Chinatown and South Philadelphia," amid reports of a national rise in hate crimes against Asian-Americans.
One involves hateful graffiti sprayed at the Pierce schoolyard at 24th and Christian in South Philly.
"This national and local surge in racist rhetoric & acts of violence will not be tolerated," Outlaw said in the first of a two-part tweet. "We denounce acts of hate targeted towards individuals and groups based on their race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin."
She encouraged Philadelphians to report instances of racial discrimination to local authorities.
"I feel heartbroken and torn in all of this senseless violence and hate crimes," said Sharlene Cubelo. She’s the founder of a non-profit called Movements for Violence Prevention. She and several others are holding a rally Thursday in Chinatown with a theme of solidarity.
Crimes against Asian-Americans bubbled to the surface last week in Atlanta when 21-year-old Robert Long allegedly killed four women inside a spa and four other people inside a massage business about 30 miles away. Six of the eight people killed were Asian-American women.
Long, who is white, told investigators the attacks were not racially motivated and claimed to have a sex addiction, which caused him to lash out at what he saw as sources of temptation.
Recent attacks, including the killing of an 84-year-old San Francisco man in February, have raised concerns about worsening hostilities toward Asian Americans. Nearly 3,800 incidents have been reported to Stop AAPI Hate, a California-based reporting center for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and its partner advocacy groups, since March 2020. Nationally, women reported more than double the number of hate incidents compared with men.
Police in several major cities saw a sharp uptick in Asian-targeted hate crimes between 2019 and 2020, according to data collected by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. New York City went from three incidents to 27, Los Angeles from seven to 15, and Denver had three incidents in 2020 — the first reported there in six years.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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