Too few crimes against Asian Americans get reported as hate crimes, Illinois Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth said Sunday following the shootings in Atlanta that left eight people dead – six of them of Asian American descent.
Duckworth in an interview with CBS’s "Face the Nation" said that hate crimes against Asian Americans have surged over the past year as the coronavirus pandemic swept the country.
"We know that crimes against Asian Americans that have been categorized as hate crimes have increased by over 150% in our nation's major cities," she said. "That's over 3,800 additional crimes last year."
However, Duckworth noted that not all crimes against Asian Americans are classified as hate crimes, with many getting reclassified as another type of crime such as mugging, vandalism or harassment.
"The problem is the crimes often are not reported as a hate crime or race-motivated crime at the scene with the local police officers because people just don't see Asian Americans as a minority group that gets attacked on a regular basis," the Illinois Democrat said.
Duckworth’s comments come as Asian American communities around the country are still reeling after a gunman killed eight people at three separate massage parlors in Atlanta on Tuesday.
Robert Aaron Long, 21, was charged with eight counts of murder, four of which were carried out at a Cherokee County massage parlor. The other shootings occurred at two other locations. Six people of Asian American descent were among the dead.
Officials have stressed that the investigation is ongoing, and authorities have not yet made an official determination as to the motive of the attacks -- including whether they were racially motivated -- at this time.
The senator said she sent a letter to FBI Director Chris Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland asking for a deeper investigation into whether the shootings were racially motivated and into other crimes against Asian Americans.
"It looks racially motivated to me, but I'm not, you know, I'm- I'm not a police officer," Duckworth said.