A joint virtual conference calling for stopping anti-Asian hate crimes was held in Chicago.
A thousand people from the greater Chicago area and other parts of the country participated in the conference. Representatives from local government agencies and organisations, including Attorney General of Illinois Kwame Raoul, Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and alderman in Chicago Patrick Thompson also participated in the event on Saturday, Xinhua news agency reported.
All the speakers strongly condemned the killings of eight people, including six Asian women, at three massage parlors in the Atlanta area on Tuesday evening.
"This is a country where people of colour have always faced discrimination," said Preckwinkle. "There is a long pattern of anti-Asian discrimination that needs to be dealt with."
"It's a brutal act," Preckwinkle said. "We can't tolerate marginalising anybody."
Dart acknowledged that there had been "an increase in dramatic levels" of hate crimes against Asians in the country and in Chicago as well.
"There are good reasons for people to be terrified," Dart said. "But we can sketch out any plan we can to help."
Dart encouraged social media engagement, tolerance education, and 24-hour hot lines to report crimes.
"What happened in Atlanta last week is a terrible tragedy," said Thompson. "But it's also an opportunity for us to stand together against hate crimes."
Commander Don Jerome of the Chicago Police Department said there were three high profile murders in the Chinatown area last year. He acknowledged that hate crime is pervasive in the country now.
Jerome encouraged Asian Americans to speak out and report crimes.
"It's up to us to stand in solidarity against hate crimes," said Raoul, attorney general of Illinois.
"We've invited law-makers from federal, state and city levels to participate in our conference," Jan Zheng, president of Chinese American Association at Greater Chicago (CAAGC), told Xinhua. "We want to have law-makers to hear our voices and regulations established to protect the interests of Asian (Americans)."
Organized by CAAGC, Cook County Sheriff's Office, City of Chicago and the Commission on Human Relations, the virtual conference was moderated by ABC 7 television hostess Judy Hsu and broadcast live on ABC 7.
According to Stop Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Hate, a California-based reporting center for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, there are 3,800 hate crimes against Asian Americans reported since March 2020, among them, 42 percent of the victims are Chinese Americans.