The Atlanta Police District is investigating the racist plaques that have popped up on a variety of building walls and fixtures around East Atlanta.
The small, bronze-colored plaques had the words “Wuhan Plague” on them, some designed with Winnie the Pooh using chopsticks to eat a bat and others with a bat and the biohazard symbol.
Witnesses say the plaques have been popping up on multiple establishments throughout the city since last week, AJC News reports.
According to APD, the first plaque was seen on an electrical box in front of 188 Waverly Way in Inman Park on April 13. Another was discovered three days later on a city lamp post near the intersection of Wylie and then Flat Shoals in Reynoldstown. Then, another on Candler Park Market two days after the second.
Krystle Rodriguez, the owner of the Hodgepodge Coffeehouse where one of the plaques was found, says such actions reinforce awful stereotypes about Asians.
“I have Asian American friends that said it’s allergy season and they’re afraid to sneeze in public because of all of the hate speech,” she noted.
Since COVID-19 began spreading worldwide, there has been a spate of hate crimes against Asian Americans in the U.S.
However, APD has stated that the plaques do not appear to meet the criteria for a bias crime.
“If someone were to be identified as placing them, any charges would have to be looked at on a case-by-case basis, depending largely on whether any damage was done to the property to which the medallion is being affixed,” Atlanta police representative Carlos Campos was quoted as saying.
There needs to be sufficient evidence that “the crime was committed based on the victim’s race, religion, sex, or another identifier.”
APD has yet to confer with the FBI and the U.S. to determine if this does constitute a hate crime as Georgia doesn’t have a hate crime statute.
Meanwhile, the group Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta considers the plaques as a form of harassment against the Asian American community, reports CBS46.
“This hateful and dangerous rhetoric has consequences. Chinese Americans and those perceived to be are now victims of violence. These plaques are the latest incident to harass the Asian American community and it is important we all condemn it. Hate has no place here,” said Advancing Justice-Atlanta Policy Manager Swathi Shanmugasundaram.
Feature Image via KrystLe McNeill Rodriguez