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Dave & Dujanovic: DA says Utah law protects victims of hate crime

ACWORTH, GA - MARCH 17: Lijing Zhao, owner of Jo Jo’s Massage, lays a bouquet of flowers outside a massage parlor where four people were shot and killed on March 17, 2021 in Acworth, Georgia. The suspect, who is now in custody, reportedly made reference to a "sex addiction" in conversations with investigators. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Asian-American communities nationwide are on edge after Tuesday’s deadly shootings at three Atlanta-area spas. Six of the eight people killed were Asian women. Police say it’s still too early to determine a motive in the killings, but the attacks come as Asian Americans are facing increased incidents of hate crime during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic, anti-Asian hate crimes are up 150% according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino.

Robert Aaron Long, 21, is being held without bond in Cherokee County. He faces four counts of murder and a count of aggravated assault, according to the county sheriff’s office.

Hate crimes go underreported

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill joined Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to discuss what victims of hate crimes can do to seek justice in Utah.

“Are we seeing these incidents in Utah, and they’re going not reported or underreported?” Debbie asked.

“[Hate crimes] are historically underreported because a lot of that is something that, which is sad to say, you’ve come to expect. So a lot of that is the verbal harassment. The racist discriminatory statements that are made to you in an encounter that occurs. It’s short, but it is definitely targeted at you . . . It happens with a greater frequency than most people realize.” Gill said.

Call police

Gill advised if you are a victim of a hate crime, contact your local law enforcement.

“Well the good thing is a couple of years ago the state of Utah, the Legislature finally created a victim-targeting law that allows us prosecutors with the tools. It took 20 years in the making. And therein itself speaks to the challenge that you have,” he said. “Law enforcement now knows that there’s a tool that’s available. So my first advice is do not ignore this. 

“If you are a victim, please, reach out to your local law enforcement and file that complaint and record that incident,” he said.

“Sim, how do you prove someone was targeted because of race?” Dave asked.

“Well, you know, sometimes it’s actually very easy because in the process of the assault somebody is yelling those derogatory terms,” Gill said. “In Atlanta . . . I’ve heard that some reports are saying that the person was actually making very specific, Asian-driven derogatory comments in the assaults and  killings that were occurring.”

Related:

Black Lives Matter Utah alleges girl at Skyridge High School a victim of ‘hate crimes’

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.