A collection of civil- and human-rights advocates and elected officials gathered in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday to condemn the rise of hate crimes against Asian Pacific Islander communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The gathering began with a moment of silence in honor of the victims of Tuesday’s shootings at three spas in Georgia that killed eight people, most of them Asian women. Although the suspect has allegedly claimed he was driven by a sex addiction, not hatred, the shootings have been decried nationally as another attack on the Asian community.

“I too mourn the lives that were taken last night in Georgia, because no matter where it happens, it’s an assault on all of us, and it’s horrific,” County Supervisor Hilda Solis said.

She said that “proportionately speaking, more Asian women are being attacked, more than ever . It’s unprecedented.”

The group that gathered in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday included representatives from a host of civil-rights organizations, including the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Asian-Americans Advancing Justice LA and The Los Angeles LGBT Center. Renowned social-justice activist the Rev. James Lawson was also on hand, along with civil rights attorney Connie Rice.

Multiple studies and surveys have shown spikes in hate incidents and crimes targeting the API community during the pandemic.

County officials reported earlier this month there has been a recent doubling in hate crimes against Asian residents. A report released this week by Stop AAPI Hate documented 3,795 incidents reported to the organization between March 2020 and this February, and noted that the number represents “only a fraction of the number of hate incidents that actually occur.”

According to the report, the incidents included verbal harassment, physical assault, civil-rights violations such as workplace discrimination or refusal of service, and online harassment.

Los Angeles County recently increased funding for its LA vs Hate program to provide support and resources for victims of hate crimes and incidents.

“We’re here because we recognize that when one ethnic group is under attack it tears (the) fabric of our society and it hurts all of us, and it is painful,” Solis said. “Unfortunately, though, I know that we’ve done these press conferences too many times, and it does hurt. But public denunciations are absolutely necessary every time that there is an act of hate against anyone in our community.

“… Right now, just a mile away from here, we have elderly people in Chinatown who are afraid to go out and exercise and do what they do, walk. They’re afraid to do that and it’s unacceptable that these people are being harmed in this way. Now is the time for us to take action.”

Local civil-rights leader Earl Ofari Hutchinson of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable called Wednesday for law enforcement to step up their presence around Asian-owned spas in the area in response to the shootings in Georgia.

“During this tense time, the Atlanta attack demands increased vigilance in Los Angeles in protecting the many Asian-owned spas in the city,” Hutchinson said.

The LAPD and sheriff’s department had no immediate response to the call. Sheriff Alex Villanueva is scheduled on Thursday to take part in an online Hate Crime Summit to address concerns about hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans.

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