“We deserve to be treated equally”: Asian Springfield residents respond to increase in national Anti-Asian hate attacks

Local News
Rev Steve Heather KOLR

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Asian American-related attacks across the United States have increased by 150%, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

“The continued rise in attack and violence against the Asian-American community is despicable,” said Letitia James, New York State Attorney General.

“There’s never been a situation in my lifetime that I’ve felt this level of fear,” said Andy Kim, a New Jersey Representative.

So, where did this rise in targeted assaults come from? Many point to last year’s use of terms like “China Virus” after the COVID-19 cases in Wuhan, China.

Though the Springfield Police Department says there have been no physical attacks reported locally, Asian residents say the attacks around the country affect them emotionally.

“Called Chinese virus, or Kung Flu,” said Gabby Chen, a Springfield resident, “I see the old people got beaten. I’m Asian, so I can feel the pain. Like sometimes I walk in the street, I feel like, what if they want to beat me? What if nobody wants to help me? So, I’m scared.”

“This has been such an incredibly traumatic time to be alive as an Asian person in America,” said KJ Roelke, another Springfield resident, “I am always ready to be verbally assaulted. Always ready to be given a side-eye, honked at.”

“I was in a truck, and then all of a sudden, there was a truck honking at us I was like okay, maybe they know us. But, to be honest, I don’t know them, and then they did a middle finger at me,” said Chen, “I see a lot of people they see me, they think they see the virus, they just dodge. I stay in the U.S. The whole time. I don’t have the virus.”

Three Springfield residents said they don’t want to be next.

“I’ve had people honk at me while I’m walking my dog,” said another Springfield resident, anonymously, “just going on walks by myself, it’s scary I could get attacked or something, and I don’t know if someone would help me.”

These Springfield residents hope people will see anti-Asian hate as a very serious issue.

“A lot of people think, Asians are doing great, they make money, they’re fine, they’re rich, they drive good cars, everybody thinks like that, but it’s not true,” said Chen. “They’re like, you drive good cars, why are you complaining? I’m like, it doesn’t work like that. We speak English, we’re trying so hard to make a living, we’re trying to make a lot of friends with Americans. We deserve to be treated equally.”

International Services at Missouri State University says it is its mission to make sure students of all backgrounds feel safe.

“Missouri state does condemn racism, discrimination, and hate in any form,” said Patrick Parnell, director of international services at Missouri State University.

And the university has resources in place for students who may feel isolated.

“Whether that’s through emotional wellness, preventing bias, academic, or financial,” said Parnell.

“Find that support group or that connection, not handling that alone. Because it can tear you down,” said Daezia Smith, leadership program specialist at international programs at Missouri State University.

The increased instances of hate crimes led the Senate to pass an anti-Asian hate crime bill aimed at the justice department reviewing hate crimes faster.

It passed in the Senate 94-to-1.

The only senator who voted no was Josh Hawley, senator from Missouri.

Here are Chen and Roelke’s full interviews:

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