This story was last updated on April 14 at 10:45pm to include quotes from Cynthia Choi.
Devi Chauhan remains in the hospital after a gunman entered his Asian Grocery convenience store off Albemarle Road Sunday morning and shot the 37-year-old owner in the chest for reasons police still don’t understand.
What’s happening: On Tuesday, CMPD arrested 24-year-old Vantroy Greene in connection with the shooting. He was charged with attempted murder and possession of a stolen firearm — but not robbery, which police had thought could be the motive.
- Chauhan did not know Greene, CMPD said in its incident report.
Police had said there’s no evidence yet to suggest Chauhan, who is Asian American, was targeted because of his race or ethnicity. But detectives also say they have not eliminated the possibility that the shooting was racially motivated.
The state of play: In recent weeks, following the shootings in Atlanta, CMPD has increased its presence in areas with high concentrations of Asian-owned businesses.
- “CMPD recognizes the sensitivity of Asian victimization at this time across the country and will continue to collect intelligence related to national trends and remain focused on the impact in our community to ensure the safety of all,” the department said in a statement.
- Anyone with information about this case can contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 704-334-1600 or online.
Zoom out: This is the latest attack on an Asian-owned business in Charlotte, and it has local Asian communities on edge, says Dimple Ajmera, who is the first Asian American to serve on Charlotte City Council. She has been in touch with Chauhan’s wife, Basanti, who remains worried about her husband, Ajmera says.
- Stop AAPI Hate received 32 reports of anti-Asian hate incidents in North Carolina — including nine from Charlotte — from March 19, 2020 to Feb. 28, 2021, according to the nonprofit that tracks incidents of discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S.
“It really speaks to this larger issue of Asians and immigrants being scapegoated in times of crisis, whether it’s a public health or economic crisis,” Cynthia Choi, co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action & co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, tells me.
- If you experience or witness a potential hate crime, you can report it through Stop AAPI Hate and CMPD.
North Carolina is one of 17 states to have a hate crime law but no requirement for data collection, making it difficult to ascertain the prevalence of hate crime in the state. Recent incidents make clear it is happening, though.
- Earlier this month, for instance, a man vandalized an Asian-owned store at the Charlotte transit center, yelling racial slurs as he trashed the place. This type of incident has added to the anxiety that Ajmera says she’s heard about in Asian communities in Charlotte.
“They’re afraid to go to the grocery store, and they’re afraid to walk in the neighborhoods for fear of being targeted or attacked,” Ajmera tells me. “It’s really frightening when a member of their own community gets attacked, killed or harassed for doing normal everyday activities.”
Stop AAPI Hate advocates for a “holistic” approach to addressing the rise in anti-Asian hate crime, Choi says. Nobody is born hating anybody, she adds. That’s something that is learned.
“As a society we need to work on anti-racist education,” she says.