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Salt Lake leaders gather to denounce hate speech, violence

A make-shift memorial is seen outside a business where a multiple fatal shooting occurred on Tuesday, Wednesday, March 17, 2021, in Acworth, Ga. Robert Aaron Long, a white man, is accused of killing several people, most of whom were of Asian descent, at massage parlors in the Atlanta area. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake leaders are calling on the community to denounce hate speech and acts of violence against people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent.

Salt Lake leaders speak on hate crimes, speech

In the last year alone, nearly 3,800 instances of violence against people of Asian and Pacific Islander lineage were recorded nationwide.

State Sen. Jani Iwamoto of Salt Lake City said many Asian-American families are living in fear in Utah.

“Instances are occurring,” she explained Tuesday while speaking at the Salt Lake County Government Center. “We know that fear exists within our Asian businesses and communities. We are not immune.”

Iwamoto called on all Utahns, no matter their ethnic background, to take a more active role in fighting racism. That includes actually reporting acts of hate, instead of turning a blind eye.

“Words matter and have been attributed to [the] rise in anti-Asian violence,” she says. “Actions matter. If we see hateful behavior, we cannot idly stand by.”

Celebrating diversity

Also speaking at the press conference were Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, Rep. Karen Kwan of Murray, Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera and Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.

According to Iwamoto, the racially diverse group of leaders should serve as an example statewide that diversity connects — and does not separate — all Utahns. 

“Our demographics here are changing, [and] our diversity should be celebrated,” she said.

The press conference comes a week after a series of shootings at three Atlanta-area massage parlors that left eight people dead, six were identified as Asian women.

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