The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office (FBCSO) said it would increase patrols in Asian-American neighborhoods during a news conference Friday in which an assembly of local elected officials gathered to mourn the loss of eight victims killed in two shootings in Atlanta on Tuesday. The local officials condemned the violence and expressed solidarity with the Asian-American community.
Six of the eight victims of the shootings, which occurred at two Atlanta-area spas roughly 30 miles apart, according to a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, were women of Asian descent.
“Those victims, they look like me,” Stafford Mayor Pro Tem Alice Chen said. “We’re all together here, against hate crimes (committed) against all races. This is the time to wake up. We all need to work together against (hate).”
County Sheriff Eric Fagan said he had instructed patrol deputies to step up patrolling in Asian storefronts and communities following the shootings in Georgia.
“The Asian community is our community,” Fagan said. “It is our loved ones.”
The Asian Americans Salute Frontline Heroes, an initiative of the Chinese Community Center in Houston, donated 250 meals to FBCSO officers during Winter Storm Uri last month, Fagan said.
Fort Bend County Judge KP George, an immigrant from India, said the county appreciates and celebrates its diversity.
“We don’t tolerate any kind of racial attack on any members of our community,” George said. “It doesn’t matter what background they come from. We condemn in the strongest possible ways any act of violence and hate, and we want all of our neighbors, especially today our Asian-American community members, to know that we will do everything possible to help and support them.”
Fagan said the county is not investigating local hate crimes actively at this time, though George said he knows people who are afraid to go out in light of the attacks against Asian-Americans.
Ibrahim Khawaja, the top assistant to Fort Bend County District Attorney Brian Middleton, said the county is committed to prosecuting those who target people on the basis of their ethnicity.
“We will not tolerate hate crimes in Fort Bend County,” Khawaja said. “If you feel afraid, if you feel anxiety, if you feel trauma for things that you perceive to be considered hate crimes, know that you are protected in Fort Bend County.”