Statement of Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina Concerning Increased Incidents of Violence Against Asian Americans

Any incident of mass violence like what happened at three massage parlors in Atlanta two nights ago is horrific, and reinforces the fragility of life and our need as a society to address gun violence and mental illness as public safety issues.  The investigation by state and federal authorities will determine whether the individual who shot and killed eight people, including six Asian American women, was motivated by anti-Asian bias, and we should not jump to conclusions until that investigation is complete.  Regardless of the motive behind this tragic crime in Georgia, however, a rise in violent incidents aimed at Asian Americans throughout the country is now well-documented, if under-reported.  Fortunately, we do not seem to be experiencing an appreciable increase in reported anti-Asian bias incidents in Burlington County, but there has been an increase statewide, and an assault upon a community anywhere is an assault upon a community everywhere.  It is therefore entirely understandable that our Asian American residents would be unsettled by these incidents occurring more frequently elsewhere in our state and country.

Asian American residents of Burlington County greatly enrich our countywide community.  To cite just one example, last spring, our law enforcement agencies and other first responders gratefully received a generous donation of Personal Protective Equipment from the South Jersey Asian American Community during those initial days of the pandemic when such life-preserving materials were in short supply.

As the chief law enforcement officer of Burlington County, and on behalf of our local chiefs of police, we condemn all acts of violence against Asian Americans and want to reassure our Asian American community that we stand firmly beside you, will not tolerate any criminal activity aimed at you, and will do everything in our power to keep you and your families safe.  We urge anyone with concerns that they are being targeted for harm by anyone to call their local police departments so they can respond and investigate the matter and provide reassurance.  Like the saying goes, “if you see something, say something.”

We pray that our Asian American neighbors do not to lose faith in the county where you have chosen to live and work.  You are an integral and treasured part of our larger community, and please know that you will never walk alone.

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