Jilani: 'It's possible' recent attacks against Asian Americans 'not all explicitly hate crimes'

Journalist Zaid Jilani said Monday that “it’s possible” that recent, high-profile attacks against Asian Americans, including the shootings in Atlanta, are “not explicitly hate crimes.”

Jilani acknowledged on Hill.TV’s "Rising" that the U.S. saw an increase in bias-related incidents at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But he said “what’s happening right now may be a little bit different,” noting that the perpetrator in hate crimes needs to “signal or openly declare” hatred toward a group of people. 

“If you follow a lot of the high-profile crimes that have happened in the Bay Area, New York City, and now we have Atlanta – it’s not 100 percent clear they’re all gonna be charged as hate crimes,” he said.

“We had a huge surge in violent crime. It’s barely gotten covered,” he added. “But I think when it’s happening to Asians, people are seeing a pattern, and they’re declaring it as possibly a racist motive. I think that it’s possible they’re not all explicitly hate crimes.”

Last week’s shootings in massage parlors in and around Atlanta resulted in eight deaths, including six Asian American women. Police have not yet labeled the shooting as a hate crime, and prosecutors are still determining whether to charge the gunman for hate crimes. 

Jilani said the shooting could potentially qualify as a hate crime for “gender-based violence” after initial reports indicated the gunman “was motivated by some perverse sexual beliefs.”