For minorities in Georgia, COVID-19 pandemic has produced virus of hate and fear

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — The coronavirus pandemic is continuing to fuel fear and hate across Georgia.

Religious leaders and community groups are condemning numerous hateful acts, including a disturbing incident outside a movie theater in Suwannee.

An east Cobb County synagogue is now working with police after a Zoom-bomber struck in the middle of a special prayer service.

Suwannee police also sent Channel 2′s Michael Seiden a disturbing photo of a racist slur spray-painted on the side of a Nissan Altima.

Investigators said it happened Friday night in the parking lot of a movie theater.

Cynthia Choi is co-founder of the San Francisco-based group Stop AAPI Hate, which has been tracking anti-Asian American and Pacific Islander attacks since the early days of the pandemic.

So far, they’ve recorded more than 3,000 attacks nationwide, including 32 in Georgia. Investigators said 14 of those attacks happened in Atlanta.

“They are dehumanizing and they are despicable acts,” Choi said. “China and Chinese people were being blamed and scapegoated for the pandemic. And it certainly didn’t help to have the former president use racist rhetoric and basically racialize the coronavirus.”

But hateful individuals aren’t just targeting the Asian American community.

TRENDING STORIES:

“Look at some of the folks who were at the Jan. 6 rally at the Capitol wearing shirts that said all about the Holocaust was right and approving of it,” said Rabbi Daniel Dorsch with Congregation Etz Chaim.

The east Cobb synagogue was recently hit by a group of Zoom-bombers. Dorsch said they struck in the middle of a special prayer service.

“Zoom-bombing, of course, isn’t an actual bombing, but it means that people are entering uninvited into the Zoom space and posting terrible things like Hitler rules or just even pornographic images,” Dorsch said.

A Cobb County police investigation traced the attack back to Germany.

“It’s hard to believe they were teenagers playing Fortnight who got bored and that there are many people online right now who troll for unsecure Zoom rooms,” Dorsch told Seiden.

The FBI is also investigating reports of Zoom-bombing at Black churches.

Gerald Griggs is the vice president of the NAACP’s Atlanta chapter.

“From employment discrimination because of the style of someone’s hair to disagreement in the grocery store where someone levels a racist epithet and may not even rise to that level, but you can definitely tell that there’s a strong tenor of animus because of race, so we get it all,” Griggs said.

Griggs, who is a well-respected attorney known for his leadership during last year’s social justice movement, said it’s time for our country to come together and start to heal.

“We have to make sure that we realize the silent majority is now speaking and speaking in one voice that we have no place for hate. It’s time for us to pull together,” Griggs said.

So what can you do to help combat fear and hate from spreading? There are several online resources you can use. Here are just a few: