VANDERBURGH COUNTY, Ind. (WEHT) – The latest U.S Census Bureau data show only 1% of the population in Evansville is Asian-American.
“This is an unspeakable tragedy,” said University of Evansville Assistant Professor of Public Health Dr. Su Jin Jeong. “We’re all folks just living our lives, we’re not that much different from anyone else.”
More attacks are being reported against Asian-Americans across the country and Dr. Jeong said the Tuesday night incidents in Atlanta have pushed the nationwide conversation on hate crimes into the spotlight.
“This is very frightening and I’m familiar with the area because I’m originally from the south and I’ve gone to Atlanta many times and it strikes fear in the community,” Dr. Jeong said. “Again, it breaks that trust we have as being members of any community we’re living in out there in America.”
The spike in hostility toward Asian-Americans coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic. A new study based on law enforcement statistics across major U.S. cities found a nearly 150% surge in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020. At the same time, overall hate crimes fell by 7%.
Tri-State Chinese Culture Association President Jenbian Tsai said COVID-19 has played a big factor in the rise.
“The pandemic has nothing to do with individual Asian people,” Tsai said. “Even the origin of the pandemic is not conclusive.”
Tsai said the local Asian-American community often does not like being outspoken, but this time around he said is different.
“Don’t listen to the politician in the previous administration that tried to mislead and incite people to violence,” Tsai said. “We already saw what happened on January 6 when they tried to incite, people died.”
The Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office reports there has been investigations of hate crimes against Asian-Americans being assaulted, but not in years.
However, with fresh uptick in violence and new concerns, Asian-American community members have a simple reminder.
“People who are different aren’t wrong, we’re just different.” said Dr. Jeong.
Officials said if anyone in the Tri-State sees someone being a victim of a hate crime, they should speak up and help defuse the situation going forward.
(This story was originally published on March 17, 2021).