WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 18, 2015) – OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates extends its deepest sympathies to victims of a mass murder in Charleston, South Carolina, on behalf of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, and calls for continued vigilance on actions that lead to hate crimes.
This past Wednesday, a white gunman opened fire in a Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine. A survivor of the shooting, Sylvia Johnson, told NBC News that the shooter said, “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” Charleston Chief of Police Greg Mullen has labeled the shooting as a hate crime and the Justice Department is now launching a federal investigation.
“It is with profound dismay that we acknowledge that such a tragedy can take place in 21st century America and this hate crime should serve as an indicator of how far we have failed to come in race relations,” said Michael W. Kwan, OCA National President. “The Asian American and Pacific Islander community shares the pain of the Black community in Charleston, as we have also experienced killings motivated by hate, including the murder of Vincent Chin almost 33 years ago today by Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz. He, like the victims of this murderous rampage, had done nothing wrong except to be of a certain color and therefore a target in the mind of a racist killer. We hope that justice comes swiftly to the Charleston Shooter and that he is prosecuted to the full extent of the federal law surrounding hate crimes, unlike Chin’s killers who served no jail time for his murder.”
“Make no mistake, this slaughter of innocents is an act of domestic terrorism designed to instill fear in communities of color and advance a white supremacist political agenda,” concluded Kwan. “However, by standing united, we send a loud and clear message that proud voices of color will not be suppressed and we will continue to fight for a new day when Americans can safely congregate in places of worship, commerce, community centers, public spaces and in our own homes, knowing that we will not be hurt or killed simply for the color of our skin. OCA is heartbroken by Charleston’s loss and extends its deepest sympathies the victims of the Charleston massacre and their families.”
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates is a national organization of community advocates dedicated to improving the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs).